PLASTER ROCK, N.B. - A CN freight train carrying crude oil and propane derailed Tuesday night in a sparsely populated region of northwestern New Brunswick, forcing the evacuation of about 50 to 60 people after a fire that the rail company described as "significant."

CN (TSX:CNR) spokesman Jim Feeny said 15 cars and a locomotive derailed in Wapske near the village of Plaster Rock. He said 14 of those cars and the locomotive were toward the end of the train and in the area of the fire.

Of the cars that derailed, four were carrying propane and another four were carrying crude oil, Feeny said.

It was unclear how many of the cars were actually burning because emergency personnel were keeping well back as a precaution, he said.

"I cannot confirm if those cars are actually on fire due to the caution being expressed by the emergency responders," he said in an interview, calling the fire "significant."

The train's engineer and conductor, the only people on the train, were not hurt in the derailment, he said, adding that it's unclear what caused the train to leave the tracks.

"We are deploying full emergency response ... from Moncton, Toronto and Montreal," Feeny said. "Their priority is to protect the safety of the people and the environment."

Sharon DeWitt, emergency measures co-ordinator for Plaster Rock, said homes were evacuated in the immediate area and firefighters, police and ambulances were on site.

DeWitt said a news conference would be held Wednesday morning and emergency measures officials would be making no further comment until then.

"The situation has not worsened," she said. "There's no cause for alarm."

About 50 to 60 residents within a two-kilometre radius of the fire were evacuated and an evacuation centre for them was set up in a local arena, DeWitt said, though they were staying with family and friends.

A spokeswoman for Ambulance New Brunswick said no casualties were transported from the site.

New Brunswick's Emergency Measures Organization said it was notified of the derailment around 8 p.m. Hazardous materials crews were dispatched and the site has been secured by the RCMP.

The province's Emergency Operations Centre said it was monitoring smoke from the fire, which was moving east into a largely uninhabited area, and the Health Department would issue public health advisories if necessary.

The federal Transportation Safety Board has sent a team to the site to investigate.

The regularly scheduled freight train was headed to Moncton from Central Canada when it ran into trouble about 150 kilometres northwest of Fredericton.

Rail safety has become a major issue across the country since the deadly derailment in Lac-Megantic, Que., last summer and as a growing amount of fuel oils and crude petroleum is carried by train across the country.

In 2011, around 68,000 carloads of fuel oils and crude petroleum moved along Canadian rail lines, according to Statistics Canada. In 2012, that rose to nearly 113,000. Between January and September of 2013 — the most recent data available — some 118,000 carloads had been shipped via rail.

In November, the federal government required rail companies to tell municipalities when they transport dangerous goods through their communities after provinces and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities demanded more transparency.

CN defended its safety record in October after a series of derailments in the Prairies.

Thirteen cars on a CN freight train carrying a cargo of oil and liquefied petroleum gas went off the rails near Gainford, Alta., on Oct. 20. The community was evacuated as a precaution.

Two days earlier, residents of Sexsmith, Alta., were forced from their homes when four CN rail cars carrying anhydrous ammonia left the rails. That followed the derailment on Sept. 25 of 17 CN rail cars, some carrying petroleum, ethanol and chemicals, in western Saskatchewan.

After another CN derailment in Alberta in November, the provincial government ordered a report into whether rail companies are meeting their safety obligations.

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  • Firefighters continue to water smoldering rubble Sunday, July 7, 2013 in Lac Megantic, Quebec. A runaway train derailed Saturday igniting tanker cars carrying crude oil.

  • The downtown core lays in ruins as firefighters continue to water smoldering rubble Sunday, July 7, 2013 in Lac Megantic, Quebec. A runaway train derailed Saturday igniting tanker cars carrying crude oil.

  • The remains of tanker cars lie burnt out in the downtown core Sunday, July 7, 2013, in Lac Megantic, Quebec. A runaway train derailed Saturday igniting tanker cars carrying crude oil and devastated the town.

  • The downtown core lays in ruins as firefighters continue to water smoldering rubble Sunday, July 7, 2013 in Lac Megantic, Quebec. A runaway train derailed Saturday igniting tanker cars carrying crude oil.

  • The downtown core lays in ruins as firefighters continue to water smoldering rubble Sunday, July 7, 2013, in Lac Megantic, Quebec. A runaway train derailed Saturday igniting tanker cars carrying crude oil.

  • The downtown core lays in ruins as fire fighters continue to water smouldering rubble Sunday, July 7, 2013 in Lac Megantic, Quebec after a train derailed ignited tanker cars carrying crude oil.

  • The downtown core lays in ruins as firefighters continue to water smoldering rubble Sunday, July 7, 2013, in Lac Megantic, Quebec. A runaway train derailed Saturday igniting tanker cars carrying crude oil.()

  • The downtown core lays in ruins as firefighters continue to water smoldering rubble Sunday, July 7, 2013 in Lac Megantic, Quebec. A runaway train derailed Saturday igniting tanker cars carrying crude oil.

  • The downtown core lays in ruins as fire fighters continue to water smoldering rubble Sunday, July 7, 2013 in Lac Megantic, Quebec after a train derailed ignited tanker cars carrying crude oil.

  • Burnt out oil tank cars and the destroyed downtown core lays in ruins as firefighters continue to water smouldering rubble Sunday, July 7, 2013, in Lac Megantic, Quebec.

  • The downtown core lays in ruins as firefighters continue to water smoldering rubble Sunday, July 7, 2013, in Lac Megantic, Quebec, after a train derailed ignited tanker cars carrying crude oil. The runaway train derailed, causing explosions and fires that destroyed the downtown district.

  • The downtown core lays in ruins as firefighters continue to water smoldering rubble Sunday, July 7, 2013, in Lac Megantic, Quebec, after a train derailed ignited tanker cars carrying crude oil.

  • Burnt out oil tank cars and the destroyed downtown core lays in ruins as firefighters continue to water smouldering rubble Sunday, July 7, 2013, in Lac Megantic, Quebec. A runaway train derailed igniting tanker cars carrying crude oil on Saturday.

  • An aerial view of a fire in the town of Lac-Megantic is seen from a Sûreté du Québec helicopter Saturday, July 6, 2014 following a train derailment the sparked several explosions in Lac Megantic, Quebec.

  • Smoke rises from railway cars that were carrying crude oil after derailing in downtown Lac Megantic, Quebec, Canada, Saturday, July 6, 2013.

  • Smoke rises from railway cars that were carrying crude oil after derailing in downtown Lac Megantic, Quebec, Canada, Saturday, July 6, 2013.

  • Smoke rises from railway cars that were carrying crude oil after derailing in downtown Lac Megantic, Quebec, Canada, Saturday, July 6, 2013.

  • Smoke rises from railway cars that were carrying crude oil after derailing in downtown Lac Megantic, Quebec, Canada, Saturday, July 6, 2013.

  • Smoke rises from railway cars that were carrying crude oil after derailing in downtown Lac Megantic, Que., Saturday, July 6, 2013.

  • Smoke rises from railway cars that were carrying crude oil after derailing in downtown Lac Megantic, Quebec, Canada, Saturday, July 6, 2013.

  • This aerial photo shows a fire in the town of Lac-Megantic as seen from a Sûreté du Québec helicopter Saturday, July 6, 2013 following a train derailment that sparked several explosions in Lac Megantic, Quebec.

  • MORE LAC MEGANTIC PHOTOS

  • A levelled building is seen in the foreground the day after a train derailed causing explosions of railway cars carrying crude oil Sunday, July 7, 2013 in Lac Megantic, Que.

  • Canadian Prime Minister Harper, right, surveys the scene Sunday, July 7, 2013 in Lac Megantic, Quebec, as firefighters continue to spray derailed tanker cars. A runaway train derailed Saturday causing explosions of railway cars carrying crude oil and destroyed part of the downtown area of Lac Megantic.

  • Prime Minister Harper, centre, talks with firefighters Sunday, July 7, 2013 in Lac Megantic, Quebec. A runaway train derailed Saturday exploding tanker cars carrying crude oil and destroying part of the downtown area of Lac Megantic.

  • Prime Minister Stepen Harperwaves to people as he visits the site Sunday, July 7, 2013 in Lac Megantic, Quebec, where a runaway train derailed Saturday. Tanker cars carrying oil exploded after the derailment and destroyed the business district in Lac Megantic.

  • Firefighters keep watering railway cars the day after a train derailed causing explosions of railway cars carrying crude oil Sunday, July 7, 2013 in Lac Megantic, Que.

  • The downtown of Lac Megantic, Que. is seen Sunday, July 7, 2013, the day after a train derailed causing explosions of railway cars carrying crude oil.

  • Burnt buildings are seen following a train derailment causing explosions of railway cars carrying crude oil Sunday, July 7, 2013 in Lac Megantic, Que.

  • Workers inspect a railway car that was part of a convoy of railway cars carrying crude oil that derailed Saturday causing explosions Sunday, July 7, 2013 in Lac Megantic, Que.

  • Workers inspect a railway car that was part of a convoy of railway cars carrying crude oil that derailed Saturday causing explosions Sunday, July 7, 2013 in Lac Megantic, Que.

  • A fire keeps burns after railway cars that were carrying crude oil derailed in downtown Lac Megantic, Quebec, Saturday, July 6, 2013.

  • Firefighters douse a blaze after a freight train loaded with oil derailed in Lac Megantic in Canada's Quebec province on June 6, 2013, sparking explosions that engulfed about 30 buildings in fire. At least one person has been killed.

  • Smoke rises in the background as Quebec Premier Pauline Marois speaks to reporters after a freight train loaded with oil derailed in Lac Megantic in Canada's Quebec province on June 6, 2013, sparking explosions that engulfed about 30 buildings in fire. At least one person has been killed.

  • Residents watch rising smoke after a freight train loaded with oil derailed in Lac Megantic in Canada's Quebec province on June 6, 2013, sparking explosions that engulfed about 30 buildings in fire. At least one person has been killed.