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Update: Oil train derails, town evacuated

An East-bound BNSF train with 109 oil tankers derailed this morning about a mile east of Heimdal, in Wells County.

Six of the cars caught fire.

The state's Department of Emergency Management says the derailment happened around 7:30 this morning. Department spokesperson Cecily Fong says the 40 residents of Heimdal were evacuated.

"Those folks were evacuated to the Fessenden City Hall," said Fong.

Fong says a concern for area residents is the smoke from that fire.

"It may have some impacts on people with respiratory problems," said Fong. "The smoke is really thick and black, and it has health implications for people."

State Health Department environmental section chief Dave Glatt says people should stay away from the area. He also says the federal EPA will be setting up air quality monitors in that area. Glatt also says after the smoke clears, the Health Department and EPA will look at some other potential environmental effects, such as groundwater contamination. He says that will take some time.

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