BNSF Derailment, Fire in South Dakota Disrupts Rail Traffic

  • Main track is out of service near town of Lesterville
  • Train had 98 cars, two of which caught fire after derailment

Ten cars of a BNSF Railway train carrying ethanol derailed in rural South Dakota, starting a fire and forcing detours on the company’s main track.

“That portion of the track is out-of-service,” BNSF spokeswoman Amy McBeth wrote in an e-mail on Saturday, saying she didn’t have an estimate yet for when it would reopen. “We have other routes we can use and will use.”

The 98-car train derailed at about 6:15 a.m. local time near the town of Lesterville, she said. No injuries or damage to nearby structures have been reported. Two of the cars were involved in the fire, and BNSF and local emergency officials were responding to the scene, McBeth said.

Shipping accidents have received increased attention in recent years because of a series of fiery derailments, some involving trains that were hauling crude oil. In early March, a train carrying more than 100 cars of crude jumped the tracks in rural northwest Illinois and burst into flames. It was the second such accident involving an oil train on BNSF’s network in 15 months.

The Associated Press reported the South Dakota derailment earlier Saturday. BNSF is a unit of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc.

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