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UP train derails, catches fire in Sibley, Iowa (2nd update)

By | May 16, 2021

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Union Pacific logo with Building America sloganSIBLEY, Iowa — For the second time in about 24 hours, a Union Pacific train derailment in the Midwest has created a hazmat situation. This time, the derailment has triggered a fire that is leading to an evacuation of part of Sibley, a town of about 2,800 just south of the Iowa-Minnesota border and about 75 miles northeast of Sioux City.

KIWA Radio reports the derailment occurred about 1:20 p.m., drawing a response from six local fire departments and leading to the evacuation, and has a photo showing flames and a large plume of thick black smoke coming from a pile of derailed cars. Sibley Fire Chief Ken Huls told the station the train was hauling fertilizer and ammonium nitrate, which is used in both fertilizer and explosives. As of 5:30 p.m. CDT, KMEG-TV was reporting evacuations had been ordered within a 5-mile radius of the accident site.

A Union Pacific spokesman says the derailment occurred about 2 p.m. and involved 47 cars. No crew members were injured. The railroad is working with first responders at the scene, and the cause of the derailment is under investigation.

On Saturday, a UP train derailed near Albert Lea, Minn., leading to a hazmat situation because of a leak from two cars of hydrochloric acid [see “Tank cars leaking acid …,” Trains News Wire, May 15, 2021]. No injuries resulted from that derailment; clean-up is under way and the cause is under investigation. Sibley is about 135 miles west of Albert Lea.

— Updated at 4:55 p.m. CDT with information from Union Pacific on number of cars involved and injury status of crew. Updated at 8:05 p.m. with information on size of evacuation area.

2 thoughts on “UP train derails, catches fire in Sibley, Iowa (2nd update)

  1. I think this is former Omaha Road, which if I recall correctly, is paired with the Spine Line in a directional running scheme between Minneapolis/St. Paul and Kansas City. So, with both lines temporarily impassible, I guess all shipments between the two cities will have to go through Chicago? The system map shows a line connecting the two mains, conveniently bypassing both derailments, but I don’t know if they’re using it in that way.

  2. According to a BBC news report it was due to a collapsed bridge, but that could’ve resulted from the derailment itself, so will have to wait for “official” confirmation.

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