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Train Carrying Hazardous Chemicals Derails

November 4, 2012, 9:58 PM by Jenna Petrak

Train Carrying Hazardous Chemicals Derails

Around 5 a.m. Saturday morning, the small town of Lester, Iowa was caught by surprise. A train carrying potentially hazardous material derailed, prompting authorities to close roads, evacuate homes and clean the area.

"We evacuated some households in the immediate damage area and that went well. They found places to stay for now," Lyon Co. Sheriff's Deputy Mark Dorhout said.

The train was carrying powdered cement, liquid butane and crude oil; all of which could be potentially dangerous if they leaked out of the train cars.

Authorities weren't taking any chances with the dangerous chemicals, as semi after semi came into the area to help get the train back on its tracks. A hazmat team was also called in to look for leaks.

Authorities say it’s the liquid butane they’re concerned about because it could be flammable, even explosive.

So far no leaks have been reported but the scene was enough of a mess to limit access of the area.

Two people were on the BNSF train, the conductor and another employee. No injuries have been reported.

And although you couldn't see the immediate damage, authorities say it was quite a scene.

"The middle of the train is the actual part that detailed. So the back part of the train pushed the cars up and there's some piled up and some upside down. It's kind of a mess down there right now," Dorhout said.

And for this small town of around 300 people, this was big news. Cars stopped on an overpass in Lester to get a glimpse of the damage.

And although officials say they haven't seen anything like this before, they're thankful.

"It seemed to be quite a hazard. It could have been a lot worse if any of them intrusions happened with the cars but fortunately nothing tragic happened today," Dorhout said.

Investigators don't know what caused the train to derail from the tracks.

Roads were closed in the area and authorities say they could remain closed throughout the night until the situation is under control.

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