Train derailment, fire prompt evacuations in US town

Published May 18, 2021
Sibley: Fire is seen on a Union Pacific train carrying hazardous material that derailed in the US state of Iowa on Sunday.—Reuters
Sibley: Fire is seen on a Union Pacific train carrying hazardous material that derailed in the US state of Iowa on Sunday.—Reuters

SIBLEY: An evacuation order remained in place on Monday for part of a northwest Iowa town as firefighters worked to extinguish a burning train after a weekend derailment.

About 47 cars derailed on Sunday afternoon near Sibley, including several cars that were carrying hazardous materials. The resulting fire created a thick plume of black smoke but no injuries were reported.

Sibley is a town of about 3,000 people roughly 200 miles (322 kilometres) northwest of Des Moines. The west end of the town was evacuated after the derailment.

Union Pacific spokeswoman Robynn Tysver said the railroad’s hazardous materials experts worked with first responders through the night to contain the blaze.

Tysver said several cars involved in the derailment were carrying hydrochloric acid, potassium hydroxide and asphalt. An empty tank car on the train had been carrying liquid ammonia nitrate.

The railroad said the cause of the derailment remains under investigation, but witnesses reported that a bridge had collapsed underneath the train.

Robin Eggink told the Des Moines Register that she and her husband noticed the train slowing down followed by a big cloud of smoke as they were eating at a Pizza Hut outside of Sibley on Sunday. The family drove near the site of the smoke and saw the train split in two on both sides of a bridge that had collapsed before firefighters ordered them out of the area, Eggink said.

Published in Dawn, May 18th, 2021

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