Residents flee after train derailment, explosion
Chandra Lye, CTV Edmonton
Published Saturday, October 19, 2013 4:48PM MDT
Last Updated Saturday, October 19, 2013 6:41PM MDT
One Alberta woman said she is happy to be alive after a train derailment and explosion just meters from her home in Gainford.
Jeanette Hall told CTV News that her house caught on fire shortly after the train cars derailed.
“There was this flash and we could see the curtains melting and just the heat, then there was smoke in the room everywhere.
“There was the explosion and then they came running and said you've got to get out. There's going to be another explosion,” she explained.
The incident happened around 1 a.m. along Highway 16 and Range Road 61.
According to officials 13 cars derailed, nine contained petroleum gas and four contained crude oil.
Parkland County fire chief, Jim Phelan, confirmed one of the cars exploded, causing a volatile situation.
“A rail car carrying liquefied petroleum gas, in essence propane with other hydro-carbon solids in it, actually exploded. How it exploded and why has yet to be determined.”
After evacuating and securing the area officials decided to let the remaining substance burn off which was expected to take up to 24 hours.
“Until it is safe to approach the immediate area, the hot zone as we call it, we’ll be keeping all emergency personal and civilians away,” Phelan said.
“It is just not worth it to risk any human life over some property.”
Residents in the Hamlet of Gainford as well as homes within a two kilometre radius of the derailment were evacuated and taken to the Entwistle Community Center.
Four fire districts and up to 43 fire fighters were called out to deal with the situation, including Edmonton Police Service’s hazardous materials team and Air One cameras.
“They flew over very high and transmitted to a remote TV camera,” Phelan explained.
“They could zoom in and we could actually identify what was happening close up without anybody actually getting close up.”
Officials also said a public information line has been established at 780-968-8400.
With files from Sarah Richter