Cleanup crews begin to work on train derailment west of Minot

Published: May. 2, 2022 at 5:14 PM CDT
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WARD COUNTY, N.D. – The tracks at the scene of a fiery train derailment west of Minot this weekend have reopened to traffic and cleanup is underway.

Twenty-four cars from a Burlington Northern Santa Fe train derailed early Sunday morning near County Road 10.

The train cars involved were carrying paper products and frozen foods.

There were no hazardous train cars involved, however, the scene was still a challenge.

Due to the location, emergency crews were getting stuck in the mud near the derailment.

North Dakota’s Army National Guard was deployed Sunday afternoon to help.

Crews with BNSF have been on scene all Monday morning hauling away the wreckage, while emergency crews tackle fires that pop up.

“I’ve seen a car here or there come off the tracks, little stuff. I was not involved in 2002, the anhydrous one, but some of the guys that were involved in that said that this one to them is much worse. It’s amazing to me how much stuff piled up in a short amount of time,” said Burlington Fire Chief Karter Lesmann.

Because of the challenging location, the Burlington Fire Department asked for help from the North Dakota Army National Guard and they sent a Black Hawk helicopter with a water bucket.

“Once we got up there, we landed on Highway 10. We took the water bucket out of the helicopter and got it ready and then from there, we went to the Des Lacs Reservoir, got the first bucket, and started going,” David Kilber, an aviation safety officer and instructor pilot with the North Dakota Army National Guard.

Lesmann said the Black Hawk was a lifesaver.

“It saved us multiple days of pumping hose up and down hills that we couldn’t get to,” said Lesmann.

More than 19 buckets of water were dumped in total on Sunday.

“We were able to just come to hover and pick and choose each individual spot that we placed that fire and really pinpoint where we wanted it,” said Kilber.

The focus is now on clean-up.

“We’re in the clean-up stages but we still got a lot of stuff burning underneath so we will be here monitoring that putting stuff out as they pull it out,” said Lessman.

Fire crews will be on scene all week. A major concern now is making sure grassfires don’t break out, due to dry conditions.

There are no reported injuries and the cause of the derailment is under investigation.

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