NEWS

CN Rail derailment fires extinguished near Plaster Rock

01/11/2014 08:14 EST | Updated 03/13/2014 05:59 EDT
Two fires caused by a CN Rail train derailment in New Brunswick have burned out and evacuees will learn by noon Saturday if they can return home this weekend, officials say.

CN spokesman Jim Feeny said the controlled burn that was ignited Friday to allow crews to move the cars safely had been extinguished by Saturday morning.

Feeny said crews are making good progress. The derailed cars have been cleared off the track and crews are repairing the damaged track. He said 150 workers are on the scene near Plaster Rock, N.B.

Officials are meeting with residents at 11 a.m. to update them on the situation. A decision on when they can return home is expected by noon.

On Tuesday, nine of the train's rail cars carrying oil, butane and propane burst into flames. The materials posed a hazard to residents, inspectors and salvage workers.

The Transport Safety Board of Canada described it as a mixed freight train with 122 cars, three head-end locomotives and one remote locomotive. It left Toronto bound for Moncton. The board said 19 cars and the remote locomotive derailed.

"Investigators found a cracked wheel on a car near the front of the train. This wheel moved on the axle and lost track gauge, resulting in the derailment of that wheel set. There was also a broken rail," investigators reported. 

Investigators found 17 broken rails along the 16 kilometres of track before the pile-up.

On Friday, officials conducted a controlled burn to accelerate the blaze and bring the fire to an end.

About 150 people living in 50 homes within a two-kilometre radius of the derailment site in Wapske have spent three nights out of their homes since the derailment. Most are staying with family or friends.

TSB investigators will gather and analyzing evidence from the incident before drawing conclusions about what caused the derailment and fire. 

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