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Dec 31, 2013 12:43 AM by Courtesy KVLY - Fargo

Train derailment, explosion in North Dakota

UPDATED 10:41 P.M.

From the Cass County Sheriff's Office:

The evacuation of Casselton, ND is occurring in an orderly, calm fashion. A rough estimate from the field is that approximately 65% of residents have evacuated the area. Crews from BNSF are conducting air monitoring to determine the level of contamination and when people can safely return to their homes.

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UPDATED: A wreck involving two trains, one of which was carrying crude oil, sparked a large fire Monday that sent huge flames and dangerous smoke into the sky, North Dakota authorities said.

There were no reports of injuries from the accident, said Sgt. Tara Morris with the Cass County Sheriff's Office, but "with the oil on fire there are hazardous conditions, and we are directing all people in the area to shelter in-place and stay indoors."

Firefighters will be forced to let the fire burn out, which may take as long as 12 hours from the time of the accident (2:12 p.m. CT), because they cannot get close enough to the flames, she told CNN.

The incident occurred one mile west of Casselton, a town of 2,300 residents about 25 miles west of Fargo. Huge plumes of smoke could be seen in Fargo, Morris said

There is a Code Red alert for people who are within a 2-mile radius of the fire, according to CNN affiliate KVLY.

KVLY reported that the wind was out of the northwest, so the smoke may miss Casselton. Morris later told CNN that a portion of the town was being evacuated in case the winds shift.

She said it was unclear how the accident happened and authorities are trying to determine whether one of the trains derailed before they collided.

About 10 of the cars on the train carrying oil were fully engulfed in flames. At least a dozen firefighters are involved, she said.

An official with the Federal Railroad Administration said it will support a National Transportation Safety Board investigation of the accident.

Earlier Report: The Cass County Sheriff's Office will be initiating an evacuation of the following areas in Casselton, ND:

Railroad tracks south to the golf course
And 6th Ave west to the Casselton city limits
This evacuation is precautionary and in anticipation of potential changes in wind direction. Those within the evacuation zone are not currently in immediate danger but the potential exists if the wind changes direction.

Cass County Sheriff's Deputies and Casselton Fire Fighters will be going door to door in the evacuation zone to inform and assist those who reside in that area. The Central Cass High School will be available as a temporary shelter/family reunification. Entry should be made on the east side of the school at door six.

Public questions regarding the evacuation and reunification or public information/ concerns can be directed to the Cass County Tactical Operations Center at (701) 297-6000.

The American Red Cross is opening a shelter at Discovery Middle School in Fargo for residents that are being evacuated from a portion of Casselton, ND due to a train derailment that has led to unsafe conditions.

Discovery Middle School is located at 1717 40th Avenue South in Fargo The shelter will be opened by 6:30 p.m. Monday night. Anyone coming to the shelter should enter through west gymnasium doors. Officials are currently going door-to-door to make sure that any disabled or elderly individuals that need extra assistance to evacuate are receiving the necessary help.

The Red Cross is preparing to take in 100 people at the shelter, but have the capacity to hold up to 500. The shelter will be equipped with cots, food, and other necessary items for families displaced.

A Red Cross disaster mental health professional is also being deployed to the shelter to provide emotional support.

FIRST UPDATED

From the Cass County Sheriff's Office: A 104 car BNSF Train collided with another train while traveling eastbound approximately one mile west of Casselton, ND. How the collision occurred is unknown at this time.

The east bound train was carrying crude oil. Approximately 10 cars are fully engulfed resulting in heavy smoke in the area. Casselton Fire and the Fargo HazMat Team are currently battling the fire.

This is a HazMat incident. All people and animals within a 10 mile radius of Casselton, ND should find shelter and avoid going outside until the incident and area are deemed safe.

BREAKING NEWS: A train is derailed west of Casselton, North Dakota. It happened at 35th Street and 154th Avenue Southeast just before 2:20 p.m. Monday.

No injuries have been reported so far. Several area emergency teams are on scene and are setting up an incident command center. The Cass County Sheriff's Office says a train went off the tracks and a second train hit it.

Several train cars are on fire and huge plumes of toxic, black smoke can be seen for miles. Several explosions have also been reported. Emergency crews are urging people to stay inside and a code red alert has been sent out to residents in a two mile radius of the accident.

The Casselton Fire Department says a Burlington Northern Santa Fe train is involved. An unknown number of cars derailed, but we're told the train that is derailed was pulling more than 100 cars, some carrying oil.

The wind is from the northwest, which means the smoke may miss Casselton but people living to the southeast of town are being told to stay inside. The Casselton Fire Department says there is some concern that the derailment is near an ethanol plant.

A Valley News Live Crew is on scene. We will bring you more pictures and more information as soon as we get it.

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