Evacuated residents of Callaway, in northwestern Minnesota, where a freight train collided with a tanker truck carrying propane Thursday, were allowed to return home Friday.
Becker County Sheriff Todd Glander issued a statement around 9:30 a.m. saying that the threat had passed and all roads were being reopened. In addition, the rail line was reopened to train traffic at 9 a.m.
Late Thursday, the propane truck exploded even though crews had been pouring water on it since the collision that had occurred earlier in the day on the south side of the town, about 12 miles north of Detroit Lakes. The tanker had been burning for about 10 hours after the collision with a Canadian Pacific Railway freight train at a crossing in Callaway around 12:25 p.m. No one was hurt in the explosion.
The fire was extinguished, but Callaway remained shut down at dawn Friday, and Hwy. 59 was closed between County Roads 14 and 26 until Glander announced the reopening.
Eleven rail cars and one locomotive on the Canadian Pacific train derailed, according to railway spokesman Andy Cummings. None of the derailed cars contained hazardous materials, and none caught fire. Two members of the train’s crew who suffered noncritical injuries were treated at the Detroit Lakes hospital before being released.
Authorities are trying to determine why the tanker was on the tracks at the time of the collision. Cummings said the railway company “will conduct a full investigation into the incident, with a focus on how the vehicle came to be on the tracks at that time.” It appears that the locomotive engineer sounded the train’s horn before the collision, he said.
Authorities had ordered Callaway’s 230 or so residents to find shelter with friends or family members away from the crash scene or at Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church, which is about a mile away.
The railroad found lodging for many residents in Detroit Lakes or Mahnomen. Others found temporary housing with friends or relatives. Only a few stayed overnight at the church, said Dani Johnson, a church volunteer who was displaced from her home. She spent the night helping to feed firefighters and first responders.