Small community in Alberta evacuated after oil and gas train derails


A Canadian National Railway train carrying crude oil and liquefied petroleum gas crashed in the small town of Gainford, west of Edmonton, Alberta, early Saturday morning, forcing an evacuation of about 100 people in the town., the Transportation Safety Board of Canada said.

There were no injuries and no damage to homes or other private property has occurred, according to the National Post, a Canadian news outlet.

Thirteen cars — four laden with crude oil and nine carrying liquefied propane gas — came off the tracks around 1 a.m. local time. Three cars began leaking and caught fire.

“It was a huge boom and the house started shaking,” said Devon Cadwell, 15, who lives on a ranch just outside Gainford, told the National Post.

“The system is safe,” Federal Transport Minister Lisa Raitt told Canda’s Globe and Mail in an interview Saturday. “Although we will see derailments, we’ve never seen an accident or an incident like Lac-Mégantic, that’s for sure,” she said in reference to the derailment of a train carrying tanker cars of oil in Quebec earlier this year. “But the system is safe. Over 99.9 per cent of the time the dangerous good makes it to its final destination. But all that being said, we still lost 47 people [in Lac-Mégantic] and it’s up to us to ensure that if there are mitigating things we can do, that we can learn from, that’s what we should be doing.”

According to the National Post, officials let the fires burn, and one burned itself out by Saturday night. Rail offcials say the oil cars were moved a “safe distance” from the derailed cars that were on fire. The fire jumped a four-lane highway, charring the pavement on the way. At least one rural home was threatened, with the fire burning grass near the house. Fire consumed grass and brush on both sides of the Yellowhead Highway, a major transportation corridor, and drivers had to detour around the site of the accident.