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Fireball, Black Smoke Hit Sky as Train Carrying Crude Derails

'You can see the plume of smoke for 25 miles.'

- Andrea Germanos, staff writer

A giant fireball and huge plumes of black smoke shot into the sky on Monday afternoon when a BNSF train carrying crude oil derailed after colliding with another train near Casselton, North Dakota.

"A grain train derailed and a train carrying crude ran into it," Reuters reports Cecily Fong, public information officer with the North Dakota Department of Emergency Services, as saying. "Possibly up to 12 rail cars involved," Fong stated.

“There was an explosion, where a car let loose and there was a giant fireball, hundreds of feet in the air,” added Assistant Chief Gary Lorenz of the City of Fargo Fire Department, who had communicated with crew at the scene.  “It’s burning very strong right now,” he said. “You can see the plume of smoke for 25 miles.”

"The sky is totally black from smoke,” Casselton homeowner Eva Fercho told WDAY News, and said that when a second explosion hit she "could almost feel the house shake."

The derailment reportedly occurred about one mile from the city's ethanol plant.

A YouTube user has posted this video of the explosion:

Twitter users have been following the details of the derailment as they emerge as well:

There are no reports of injuries as of this writing, though authorities classified the accident as a HazMat incident and called for an evacuation area.

The risks of transporting crude by rail—a practice that seems to be booming—have been underscored by a series of recent accidents, including the Lac-Mégantic disaster that killed 47 people.

As environmental campaigners like 350.org's Jamie Henn have stated, however, the question should not be about whether oil should be transported by rail or by pipeline; rather, it is a question of breaking the addiction to fossil fuels.

"The real way to protect our land, water and climate is to break our addiction, not debate delivery mechanisms for the poison," Henn previously stated.

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