Freight train derailment sparks fire, forces evacuation

October 7, 2011

Associated Press

A fiery freight train derailment in north-central Illinois sent up bright orange flames and plumes of smoke that could be seen miles away, and has forced authorities to evacuate residents of the small community of Tiskilwa.

The Bureau County sheriff's office says the train derailed early Friday. Resident Amanda Knight says the explosions she heard sounded "like a jet coming over the town."

Mick Burkart of Iowa Interstate Railroad says 26 cars on the 131-car train derailed, including seven to nine loaded with ethanol, which Capt. Steve Haywood of the Ottawa Fire Department says was being shipped by Decatur-based corn processor Archer Daniels Midland.

There's been no immediate word about any injuries related to the derailment. Authorities say the town's evacuees are being taken to Princeton High School.

The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency is responding to the scene of the derailment. EPA spokeswoman Maggie Carson says the representative heading to Tiskilwa intends to make sure waterways and the environment are protected. Carson says that what's known about the derailment so far suggests that fumes will burn off and there won't be long-term effects for residents.

Tiskilwa is a village of about 800 people that's located about 100 miles west of Chicago.