A North Dakota town was evacuated after a Warren Buffett-owned oil train derailed and caught on fire
A photo posted on Facebook by a local radio station showed flames and heavy black smoke from several tank cars that had derailed in a field.
According to KX News, Heimdal is a 40-person town in central North Dakota that is located along one of the main rail lines heading east out of the giant Bakken oil patch.
About two-thirds of all North Dakota oil production is shipped by rail; three-quarters of that oil goes to refiners on the US East Coast.
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"The FRA has deployed a ten person investigation team to the site and will be conducting a thorough investigation into the cause of the accident," Sarah Feinberg, acting administrator at the Federal Railroad Administration, said in a press statement.
BNSF did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The derailment came just days after the US Department of Transportation and Canada's Transport Ministry announced new rules last Friday for oil trains, including phasing out older tank cars, adding electronic braking systems, and imposing speed limits. The measures were all meant to reduce the frequency and severity of oil-train crashes.
The volume of crude oil shipped by rail has rocketed in recent years as production increases from areas like North Dakota outpaced new pipeline development.
A spate of explosive accidents have accompanied that growth, the worst of which occurred in July 2013 when a train derailed in the town of Lac Megantic in Canada, killing 47 people.
Already this year, five trains have derailed and caught fire in the United States and Canada, all in rural areas. No deaths have occurred but the accidents have stoked fears about the safety of transporting crude oil by rail.
(Reporting By New York Energy desk; Editing by Frances Kerry)