News & Reviews News Wire BNSF train transporting ethanol derails, catches fire in Minnesota (updated)

BNSF train transporting ethanol derails, catches fire in Minnesota (updated)

By Trains Staff | March 30, 2023

| Last updated on February 5, 2024

Evacuation ordered in town of Raymond; no injuries reported

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Derailed and burned tank cars
A BNSF train derailed and caught fire early today in Raymond, Minn., leading to an evacuation. Image from KMSP-TV via Twitter

RAYMOND, Minn. — Evacuated residents have begun returning home after an early morning derailment of approximately 22 cars of a BNSF Railway train, some carrying ethanol, and subsequent fire.

The Kandiyohi County Sheriff’s Office reported at midday that the evacuation for Raymond, ordered after a derailment about 1 a.m., had been lifted, and said there was no impact to groundwater. A portion of State Route 23 near the derailment scene remains closed.

Two people looking at derailment damage
A photo of the derailment site in Raymond, Minn., during Gov. Tim Walz’ visit. Gov. Tim Walz via Twitter

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz posted photos of the derailment scene on Twitter and said he had offered the state’s full support to local officials during a visit today, and that a “multi-agency emergency response” was continuing.

BNSF spokeswoman Lena Kent said the derailment occurred at 1:02 a.m. and involved approximately 22 cars carrying ethonal and corn syrup. BNSF said on its Twitter account that that air monitoring “indicates no detectable levels of concern,” and says residents and businesses impacted by the incident can call 866-243-4784 for assistance.

A National Transportation Safety Board investigation team is expected at this site this afternoon, the NTSB announced.

Raymond, a town of about 800, is 14 miles southwest of Willmar, Minn., and about 110 miles west of Minneapolis. It is on BNSF’s Marshall Subdivision, which runs from Willmar to Sioux City, Iowa. The railroad has not estimated a time for clearing and reopening the line.

It was the second BNSF derailment in less than 18 hours. A number of empty grain hoppers derailed about 8:30 a.m. Wednesday in Hettinger, N.D., with one striking a building at a grain elevator, according to KYFR-TV. No injuries were reported. Images from the Adams County Record Facebook page indicate at least nine cars were involved.

— Revised at 1:55 p.m. with updated information throughout. Updated at 2:10 p.m. information about location on BNSF.

9 thoughts on “BNSF train transporting ethanol derails, catches fire in Minnesota (updated)

  1. When we rode the Zephyr last fall it was quite noticeable how many dips there were in the track on the BNSF.

  2. Interesting listening to the governor talk about the Burlington Northern guess the term BNSF hasn’t sunk in.

    1. BN is what we called it in my days up in Minnesota but then again I wasn’t the governor speaking officially and professionally. A lot of railfans love to make jokes anytime someone else says BN thinking because we say BN somehow we’re ignorant or stuck in the past because we don’t know about the great BNSF! Actually, we’re about 1000 times more aware and experienced with the BNSF than they are except we use nicknames and often times nicknames are based on older terminology. How many miles of BNSF trackage have railfans operated on and how many BNSF bulletins and track warrants have they been governed by. There’s the real joke.

  3. Mr. Salisbury: Good investment advice, thanks!

    Yes, it sounds like the BNSF Railway has had a bad run of luck in Minnesota in the past 24 hours. I heard on the radio news this morning that BNSF officials are on site and briefing/updating local officials and the Minnesota governor.

    It sounds like the BNSF Railway is trying to be proactive in the aftermath of this derailment and not get into an East Palestine-type situation (though this derailment doesn’t sound quite as bad, yes, ethanol does burn, but it isn’t ‘toxic’ in the same way vinyl-chloride is …..

    1. “bad run of luck” is an interesting term to use at the moment. Luck sometimes is predicated on the preparation of the one recieving such luck, bad or otherwise.

    2. My favorite quotation from Branch Rickey (you remember him, right? He brought Jackie Robinson to the Dodgers) : “Luck is the residue of design.”

  4. “Second BNSF derailment in less than 18 hours.” Not surprising here; we rode the California Zephyr westbound recently and, where in Denver where it switches from BNSF across Nebraska to UP in Colorado, the positive improvement in smoothness of ride must have been noticed by all. Reportedly BNSF doesn’t have the $$ to spend on track maintenance that UP does, but the fact remains that at least one person (me) wondered in Nebraska how soon the train was going to derail.

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