Derailment Aftermath: Crews Investigate to Find Cause

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Crews in Heimdal worked all day cleaning up after a train carrying crude oil derailed and started on fire yesterday.

NTSB and Federal Railroad Association are both conducting investigations to determine the cause.

“It’s a little different today. It was kind of a tough day yesterday. You know you think that things like this won’t ever happen to you or in your small community,” says Heimdal resident Darla Siewert.

A town of just around 25 people, all having to pack their bags in a hurry and leave their homes Wednesday morning.

“The fire department was knocking on my door and said that we have to evacuate so everything went pretty quick,” Siewert says.

But Darla Siewert refused to leave without all of her cats and dogs, resulting in her being almost the last person to evacuate.

“I just wanted to get my animals out of the house that was the only thing that really mattered to me,” says Siewert.

She and all of her neighbors made it out safely. She went four miles away to her mom’s house.

But who knows what would have happened if Curt Benson didn’t hear the explosion and make the initial 911 call.

“I immediately got in my car drove down to the tracks, saw that there were five or six cars that had derailed, oil cars that derailed, and there was fire and there was continuing explosions,” Benson says.

But although there are more officials in town than there are residents, this was a quiet day in the small town of Heimdal compared to yesterday.

“There are some wheel fragments that have been found and certainly that is of great interest to us,” says NTSB investigator Jim Southworth.

Throughout the next few days officials will be interviewing the conductor and assessing those broken wheels found on the tracks in order to try and determine a cause.

“There was also a camera on this train and I’ll have an opportunity to look at that later today,” Southworth says.

Officials say cleanup for derailments like this can last anywhere from 4-15 days.