Trains collide in Casselton, North Dakota, leading to giant fireball and toxic fire

December 30, 31 2013: Two BNSF trains collided about a mile west of Casselton, North Dakota, setting the crude oil that one of them was carrying on fire. The toxic plume of smoke from the fire has led to evacuations of the city, which is 25 miles west of Fargo. The fire’s black smoke is visible from space, as seen in the GOES satellite image below.


Meteorologist Aaron White: The smoke plume from the train collision was large enough that it could be seen on the visible satellite imagery just before sunset.

The most prolific hashtag on Twitter for the event is simply #Casselton.

Photo and video credit: Darrin Radermacher.

As always with a disaster like this, if you are in the affected area, you want to get information from a media source that is likely to be more up to date than this weblog.

First, news sources from nearby, then any links that make sense to tell the story.


  • WDAY Channel 6 – Train carrying crude oil derails near Casselton; Cass County Sheriff’s Office recommends evacuation of Casselton (w/ video)

Emergency and fire-fighting crews are respond-ing to the derailment, which Amy McBeth, a spokeswoman for BNSF, said occurred at around 2:10 p.m. McBeth said no crew members on the train were injured during the acci-dent. The train was 106 cars long and headed east-bound, she said.

The Cass County Sheriff’s Office is strongly recommending an evacuation of the entire City of Casselton and anyone residing five miles to the south and east of Casselton, effective immediately.

Information from the National Weather Service indicates a shift in the weather resulting in a high pressure system that will push the plume of smoke down increasing the risk of potential health hazards.

Scanner: Cass County scanners on Broadcastify. The best one to follow, according to the page, is the BNSF Fargo-Dilworth area Road and Yard railroad feed.

BNSF is the railroad involved. This is their service advisory to customers –

We have a preliminary report that at 02:10 p.m. Central time on December 30, 2013, GRYLRGT926 derailed on Main track 1 and impacted UFYNHAY405, causing it to derail on Main 2 just west of Casselton, North Dakota. Casselton, North Dakota is 25 miles west of Fargo, North Dakota.

At this time we have no estimate when the main tracks will reopen.


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