A train derailment in northwest Iowa early this morning produced an explosion and massive fire that could been seen from eight miles away.
Palo Alto County Sheriff Lynn Schultes says the accident happened near Graettinger just before 1 a.m.
“At the time when the call came in, there were roughly eight tankers that were engulfed in flames,” Schultes said. The tanker cars were full of ethanol. The Union Pacific train was pulling 101 loaded tanker cars which had recently been filled at an ethanol plant in Superior, Iowa.
Railroad officials were able to unhitch most of the tankers and move them from the crash site. “Approximately 75 tankers were detached from the derailment site and were pulled a safe distance away,” Schultes said.
The engineer and conductor aboard the train escaped unharmed. Residents in four homes nearby were evacuated. Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board will be working to determine the cause of the derailment.
(Reporting by Ryan Long, KICD, Spencer)