- The train was transporting a volatile form of crude oil known as Bakken
- The accident's proximity to the Colombia River is a cause of concern
Eleven rail cars from a 96-car Union Pacific train carrying crude oil derailed, causing at least one train car to catch fire, Union Pacific representative Aaron Hunt said. No one was injured.
Wasco County Sheriff Lane Magill said crews evacuated around 50 trailer park homes in a community adjacent to the railroad tracks, and residents beyond a quarter-mile radius from the burn site have been put on notice of possible evacuations.
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said that there was no structural loss and local and state federal responders are working on a cooling operation throughout the night to further isolate the incident and make sure the fire doesn't spread to other train cars. The train was traveling from Eastport, Idaho, to Tacoma, Washington, carrying Bakken crude oil, Jeff Jacobs, a spokesman for Union Pacific, said.
It is not known at this time whether the accident caused environmental damage.
The Washington Department of Ecology said there was no sign of oil in Rock Creek or the Columbia River, but placed an oil containment boom in the river as a precautionary measure.
Union Pacific Railroad crews have placed three lines of sorbent booms across Rock Creek and a containment boom at the mouth of the creek in the Columbia River to protect these waterways during response operations, the Oregon Department of Transportation said late Friday night.
The transportation of crude oil by rail has been a hot-button topic for lawmakers and the petrochemical industry as highlighted by U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer
"Seeing our beautiful Columbia River Gorge on fire today should be a wake-up call for federal and state agencies -- underscoring the need to complete comprehensive environmental reviews of oil-by-rail in the Pacific Northwest."
Several agencies are investigating the cause of the derailment.