A multi-carriage train carrying oil has derailed in the Columbia River gorge, just outside the town of Mosier, some 68 miles east of Portland. Smoke from the resulting fire is visible from miles away. There are no reports of injuries.
Mosier residents are being warned that a 1-mile mandatory evacuation could be put into effect at any time, KGW-TV reported.
The train was operated by Union Pacific, according to The Oregonian.
“I can confirm it’s ours,” Union Pacific spokesman Justin Jacobs told the newspaper.
Union Pacific hauls both the thick, waxy Utah crude and the Bakken crude from North Dakota through the Columbia River gorge, The Oregonian reported.
Multiple cars have derailed near the Rock Creek overpass, just west of town, KOIN-TV reported.
Union Pacific later confirmed that eleven cars from the 96-car train were involved in the accident, and that oil was released from at least one car. The train was hauling Bakken crude, the company said.
Oregon State Police and the sheriff’s office of the neighboring Hood River County are assisting with the scene, according to KOIN. Mosier Elementary School evacuated all students to the Wahtonka High School and later sent them home.
A fire broke out after the derailment, the Oregon Department of Forestry confirmed to KOIN. ODF dispatched fire crews to help, since the blaze was near state land. From the roaring flames, eventually came an explosion.
The accident has also shut down a stretch of Interstate 84 between Mosier and The Dalles. Westbound traffic is stopping at mile marker 87, and eastbound traffic can’t go past mile post 64.
Mosier is a city of some 400 residents in Wasco County, Oregon, on the left bank of the Columbia River.