Evacuation order lifted, residents allowed to return home after train derailment in Raymond

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(ABC 6 News) – UPDATE: Residents of Raymond have been allowed to return to their homes after a train carrying ethanol and corn syrup derailed early Thursday morning and caught fire, leading to hundreds of evacuations.

The evacuation order was officially lifted at around 11:45 a.m., allowing residents to return home.

Gov. Tim Walz visited the site Thursday morning and spoke at a press conference alongside Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway leaders and local authorities at the church.

“I am immensely grateful for the swift, coordinated response between local, state, and national partners to ensure the immediate safety of the Raymond community,” said Gov. Walz. “The state’s multi-agency emergency response team will continue working on the ground to ensure health and safety. This incident has highlighted the critical need to invest in rail safety and the state’s emergency management response to prevent incidents like this from happening again.”   

Gov. Walz noted the state is ready to help and several state agencies had already responded to the site. He also said the state was in contact with federal officials and he’d talked to U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.

BNSF Vice President of Operations Matt Garland said the company’s experts deemed the area safe, but it’s expected to take at least a few days to clean up the crash site. The company’s CEO, Katie Farmer, also spoke and said BNSF takes responsibility for the derailment.

“We apologize for this, we take full accountability for it and we’ll continue to be here until this is cleaned up,” Farmer said. “Certainly, I think we’re hearing more about derailments in the wake of East Palestine, and 99.99% of all hazardous commodities get moved to destination without incident. … So we are very safe, we are very effective movement of hazardous commodities as well as all commodities.”

The Kandiyohi County Sheriff’s Office says road detours will remain in place around the site as local responders and BNSF personnel continue work to mitigate the incident. It’s not yet clear when the main track will reopen or what caused the derailment, which remains under investigation.


(ABC 6 News) – A freight train derailed in a fiery crash near a small town in Kandiyohi County early Thursday, forcing residents to evacuate as a precaution, officials said.

The incident was reported at around 1:00 a.m. Thursday. Multiple tankers of a train operated by Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway derailed and caught fire on the western edge of Raymond, a town in southwestern Kandiyohi County that has a population of less than 800.

BNSF Railway tweeted out that “approximately 22 cars” of a train “carrying mixed freight including ethanol and corn syrup” derailed with “four cars on fire” near Raymond at 1:02 a.m. CT. The company, one of the largest freight railroad networks in North America, is investigating the cause of the incident and, so far, there were no reported injuries.

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety stated that there are no requests for hazmat teams at this time, but the State Fire Marshal sent a fire service specialist to help extinguish the blaze.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency tweeted that its crew are also responding to the incident.

A half-mile evacuation radius was established around the derailment site. Residents within the designated area “were instructed to leave their homes,” while those “with nowhere to go” were sent to a school in the nearby town of Prinsburg, according to the Kandiyohi County Sheriff’s Office.

Minnesota Red Cross is also responding to the incident, saying they’ll be supporting shelter needs for residents, as well as canteen relief for first responders.

The fire at the derailment site “is being contained” and members of the public are advised against traveling to Raymond in the meantime, the Kandiyohi County sheriff’s office said.

The Raymond Fire Department, which deployed firefighters to the scene, said in a Facebook post that the evacuation is “for precautionary measures.”

The National Transportation Safety Board says its team investigating the derailment is expected to arrive at the scene Thursday afternoon.