On 3-10-2017 at 12:53 a.m., the Palo Alto County Sheriff’s Office received a call concerning a fire near the railroad tracks after a train had passed 1 mile southeast of Graettinger, Iowa. Upon arrival of fire, ambulance and law enforcement officials, it was determined the fire resulted from the derailment of a Union Pacific train. This train consisted of 101 cars carrying alcohol from an ethanol plant from Superior, Iowa.
Union Pacific officials were able to detach approximately 74 loaded tankers and removed them from the derailment site. Nearly 27 tankers remained, of which several were engulfed in flames.
Union Pacific response personnel are enroute to the site to assess the incident. At this point the fire is being allowed to burn.
The train carried two employees and they were not injured. The occupants of 3 area homes within 1/2 mile of the derailment site were asked to evacuate to maintain a safe zone.
Time of news release 6:43 a.m.
At 10:30 a.m., the residence displaced from their homes were allowed to return as the fire had reduced in size and the immediate danger had past. Flames were still visible from the wreckage and that could continue for sometime.
Additional Union Pacific officials had arrived to monitor the incident and the site. Clean up crews and equipment began to stage in Graettinger, Ia., until the site is deemed safe, which could be several hours.
Local Iowa Department of Natural Resource(DNR) officials collected water samples from the creek at the derailment site for testing. National Tranportation Safety Board(NTSB) officials are enroute to assist in determining the cause of the accident.
Assisting at the scene were the Graettinger and Emmetsburg Fire Departments, Graettinger and Emmetsburg Ambulance service, Palo Alto County and Pocahontas County Emergency Management Agency, Iowa State Patrol, Iowa Commercial Motor Vehicle Enforcement and Palo Alto County road officials.
Update time 1:15 p.m.
Palo Alto County Sheriff Lynn J Schultes