WEYBURN – A Weyburn man was a witness to the explosion and fireball of the CP Rail train that derailed near Macoun on Thursday morning, causing the closure of Highway 39.
“I did see it all as I got there just as fire started, but had to get back in car as a semi came barrelling down and had to get over before I had a chance to video that part. There was a huge whump and fireball over a hundred feet in height, but only got part of the fire ball photo,” said Don Duriez, who noted he was on his way to Estevan for an appointment.
“I could see ahead that derailment just happen as small flames started and as I got closer took pictures first. Yes I was probably too close as the heat was getting hot, especially after the explosion. I had to back up, so I missed the video part of the explosion, the huge fireball and black smoke.”
Andy Cummings, the manager of media relations for CP Rail, said Thursday night that a freight train derailed near Macoun just before 10 a.m. Thursday. There were no injuries.
“CP immediately mobilized emergency crews to respond to the incident and CP’s hazardous materials experts now are on site co-ordinating with local emergency responders,” Cummings said.
Two cars carrying liquefied petroleum gas were involved in the derailment, Cummings said. The fire at the scene remains active, he said, and was still burning on Friday.
The Transportation Safety Board has deployed investigators to the scene and the cause of the incident remains under investigation.
Aaron Toles, the emergency management officer with the RM of Cymri, said the Village of Macoun and the RM of Cymri both declared states of emergency. Also, those who reside within 2,200 metres of the train fire were evacuated. Those from the RM were advised that the Harry O. Memorial Arena in Midale was available to them, while those who were evacuated in Macoun could go to the William Snider Memorial Park Recreation Centre.
They are currently waiting for CP Rail's hazardous materials team to assess the situation. Midale-Cymri Fire and Rescue and First Responders were at the scene, along with members of the Estevan Fire Rescue Service through a mutual aid call.
Estevan Deputy Fire Chief Kyle Luc, speaking at 6:30 p.m. Thursday night, said hazardous materials were still actively burning. Several agencies were at the scene to mitigate the situation.
"Everyone's as good as we can be for the situation at hand," said Luc. It's not known how long it will be before people are allowed to return to their homes.
Luc reiterated requests to avoid the area, and if people do have to use the detours in place, to be mindful of those on the roads because motorists will be rerouted onto grid roads that aren't as wide.
Luc said it's anticipated that Highway 39 will be closed for 24-36 hours.
SASKTODAY.ca will have more details as they become available.