KEY POINTS

  • Officials have ordered a  5-mile radius evacuation around the derailment site
  • The diesel fuel in the engine caught fire after the bridge collapsed
  • No injury has been reported in the incident

A Union Pacific Railroad freight train derailed Sunday after a bridge collapsed near Sibley, Iowa.  

A total of 47 cars were involved in the crash that sent black smoke billowing in the air, emergency personnel said. Additionally, waterways near the site have been blocked.

The train was carrying fertilizer and ammonium nitrate, which is highly explosive, Sibley Fire Chief Ken Huls told KIWA Radio. Witnesses at the scene reported seeing mangled rail cars and a large fireball shortly after the incident.

Although no one was injured in the derailment, the Osceola County dispatcher said officials have called for evacuation within a 5-mile radius around the site.

Residents who have not been evacuated are encouraged to open their windows on both sides and position themselves in the middle of their homes as a "preventative safety measure in case one of the rail cars on fire explodes," KIWA radio reported. For the displaced residents, a Red Cross area has been set up in the American Legion Hall of the nearby city of Ashton.

Multiple fire crews from the nearby towns of Sibley, Ashton, Little Rock, Ocheyedan, Melvin and Sheldon, as well as the Sioux City Hazmat team, arrived at the scene to control the situation.

The diesel fuel used in the train was on fire and the smoke was visible as far as western Dickinson County, officials said as per CBS-affiliated Siouxland News.

In a short statement, Tim McMahan, senior director of digital and social media at Union Pacific, said, "At around 2 p.m. CT, May 16, a Union Pacific train derailed approximately 47 rail cars near Sibley, Iowa. There were no injuries to the crew. Union Pacific is working with local first responders at the scene. The cause of the derailment is under investigation."

In a similar incident in July 2020, a freight train carrying toxic chemicals derailed and caught fire in Arizona. The freight cars fell into a park below after the train bridge collapsed. It took hundreds of firemen to control the blazing fire.

Freight Train A freight train is pictured at a crossing signal. On May 14, Pittsburgh officials sent emergency crews to the scene of a train derailment in the Hazelwood community of the city. Photo: Reuters/Robert Galbraith