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A train carrying crude oil was derailed and set on fire in northern Washington near the Canadian border on Tuesday afternoon.
A three-quarter mile evacuation zone has been set up around downtown Custer, Washington, and what the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office said was in effect for a few hours after the incident on Tuesday evening. The small town has a population of about 140 people and is located off Interstate 5 about 15 miles south of the Canadian line.
Jenny Reich, who owns one of four companies in the city center, described the scene in an interview with the weather. com.
« We heard the squeak that the wheels of a train make when it stops, and then one big reproach, » said Reich.
« There was just a big black smoke that just came over and made everything dark. It covered the sky and the sun and everything. ”
The Washington Department of Ecology said seven cars derailed and five of them caught fire. A Twitter post at 2:42 p. m. PST showed the debris was still smoldering about three hours after the train derailed.
“The first one to come by said, ‘You need to evacuate now, and then about two seconds later another came by and said,’ Really, we mean now. « So I just packed my wallet, my phone, and my dogs and jumped in the car and we left, » Reich said.
The BNSF railroad confirmed that the train was carrying oil and derailed around 11:40 a.m.. m. Local time.
« The BNSF is working with local authorities to assess and defuse the situation, » the company tweeted. « The cause of the incident is being investigated. Our first priority is addressing security issues. «
Photos posted on social media showed a dark black column of smoke over the sky above the scene.
A traffic camera on Interstate 5 and Grandview Road showed that the police stopped the traffic shortly after the derailment. The Washington Department of Transportation said the freeway was closed between there and Birch Bay Lynden Road but has since reopened.
According to the State Department of Ecology, 20 billion gallons of oil move through Washington every year. Oil trains crossing the British Columbia border run on tracks along I-5. Environmentalists and others have raised concerns about the trains.
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Derailment, Derailment, Whatcom County, Custer, Petroleum
World News – USA – Oil train derailed, catches fire in Washington state | The weather channel – Article from the weather channel | Weather. com