BNSF train derails, catches fire near Plevna

2012-08-05T17:01:00Z 2014-08-25T08:19:05Z BNSF train derails, catches fire near PlevnaBy TOM LUTEY The Billings Gazette

A train west of Plevna has derailed and eight cars carrying alcohol are on fire.

Burlington Northern Santa Fe reports that 15 rail cars went off track around 2:45 p.m. Sunday. Fourteen of the cars were carrying denatured alcohol, which is used as a fuel additive. The fifteenth car was carrying cardboard.

No injuries have been reported. Highway 12, which is near the derailment, has been blocked off at both ends to secure the accident scene.

“Eight cars are on fire. It was a chain reaction of one car catching fire and another car catching fire as well,” said Gus Melonas, BNSF spokesman.

“It’s a fuel additive. There are no air-quality issues. They are letting the product burn.”

Four or five of the tank cars are on their sides.

No lives or property have been threatened.

Firefighters rushed in to extinguish grass set on fire by the derailment, then retreated to a safe spot a half mile away as the rail cars exploded.

“We were just waiting for the cars to blow up and got a good mushroom percussion,” said Kelly Gray, of Plevna, who fought the fire with her father, Roscoe. “The heat felt like your eyebrows were going to singe.”

One after another, four of the cars exploded, then the fire crews rushed back in to put out new grass fires, which they were still mopping up seven hours after the derailment.

The 106-car train from Aberdeen, S.D. was on a single lane of track that doesn’t get a lot of use, Melonas said. Only 63 of the cars involved were loaded with freight.

BNSF crews will work to have the track operational again by Monday. Roughly eight to 10 trains pass through the area daily.

Copyright 2015 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(16) Comments

  1. rudycaparros
    Report Abuse
    rudycaparros - October 16, 2012 2:26 pm
    HazMat Experts and Firefighters petition Dow Chemical and Union Pacific for safe rail tank cars transporting gas chlorine. Secondary containment is a necessary improvement that must be implemented. See--PETITION C KIT for First Responders Comments.
  2. thedooman96
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    thedooman96 - August 11, 2012 1:45 am
    People like "lyfsenk" need to just stay off the internet your not doing any one any good. BNSF is not responsible for the wheel bearings to go out. Its just one of those freak things that happen in this world. It won't be any different if the wheel bearing went out on your car and you crashed into another car and a fire gets started. Who are you going to blame? your self or the car brand? So to my conclusion keep your dumb thoughts to yourself!!! and they God for Firefighters!
  3. bmf50bmg
    Report Abuse
    bmf50bmg - August 09, 2012 7:00 pm
    Right on bigskynative!! BNSF is a huge part of local and national economy and they do clean up their messes. Thanks for recognizing that accidents happen. There are a ton of people that are fortunate to work for the railroad, not just because they are employed, but because its a tought unappreciated job that not just anybody can do.
  4. bmf50bmg
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    bmf50bmg - August 09, 2012 6:53 pm
    There are hundreds of men and women that bust their butts everyday to build railroad tracks and make train travel for people and goods safe. Sometimes stuff happens and there isn't anything that can be done to prevent it.
  5. Range Rover Fo' Eva'
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    Range Rover Fo' Eva' - August 09, 2012 4:54 pm
    WOW!!! how did i miss this?
  6. SlackJaw
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    SlackJaw - August 07, 2012 1:59 pm
    Alcohol is not a petroleum product.
  7. SlackJaw
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    SlackJaw - August 07, 2012 1:55 pm
    Denatured alcohol is just ethanol with some kind of poisonous additive mixed in so that people don't drink it.
  8. bigskynative
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    bigskynative - August 07, 2012 6:21 am
    Crimmany, they are in the business of moving material and accidents happen! You seem to think they did it on purpose. I can tell you from years past that when BNSF starts a fire from bad wheel bearings on trains or other accidents, they pay land owners and fines and go in and clean up any messes. How many people does SNSF employ in Montana alone?
    Report Abuse
    RNGONMT - August 06, 2012 12:13 pm
    It was denatured alcolhol
  10. Grateful
    Report Abuse
    Grateful - August 06, 2012 12:09 pm
    Just wanted to thank the firefighters and many volunteers in helping with the train derailment fire by Plevna. We have very dedicated people who spent all night there to keep us all safe. Hats go off to you all. Your services are greatly appreciated.
  11. lyfseenk
    Report Abuse
    lyfseenk - August 06, 2012 9:09 am
    BNSF has a very long history of using and abusing the land in Montana as well as ignoring the million people who don't have the voice or influence that Warren Buffett does. They just announced the huge profits that BNSF brought to Berkshire Hathaway this quarter. Mr. Buffett is stock piling the money to buy another company so that he can have a total and complete monopoly to lobby for more power and influence.
  12. The Real Vic Venom
    Report Abuse
    The Real Vic Venom - August 06, 2012 8:20 am
    First off, what a photo!

    Second, this is one of the dangers of transporting petroleum products by truck or rail. Trucks and trains have accidents and spills and fires occur as a result of these wrecks. This is why pipelines are still safer alternative for transporting petroleum products. The only reason pipelines get such a bad rap is that while they have fewer spills and accidents, their spills are larger and get more press. Let's see how much national press this train derailment gets compared to the pipeline leak near Laurel last year.
  13. Drill Baby Drill
    Report Abuse
    Drill Baby Drill - August 06, 2012 7:57 am
    Impressive picture!! Wow!
  14. Tradition
    Report Abuse
    Tradition - August 06, 2012 7:15 am
    This is the second ethanol blow up on a train I have heard of. Little over a year ago there was one in Ohio. This makes me question the stability of it. With the grain shortage we are already going to have, is ethanol a good idea? No, it never has been.
  15. jumpmaster18
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    jumpmaster18 - August 05, 2012 8:00 pm
    Sounds like BNSF needs to perform some track upgrades in the Montana Division.
  16. 2sense2u
    Report Abuse
    2sense2u - August 05, 2012 7:33 pm
    this really isnt news anymore is it? seems to just another day for bnsf in the last 5 years?

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