January 8, 2014 4:05 am

‘Every now and then, there’s a huge fireball': residents describe N.B. train derailment

HALIFAX – Residents described a fiery scene after train carrying crude oil and propane derailed in northwestern New Brunswick.

“On our balcony, we can just see flames. Every now and then, there’s a huge fireball, as if there was an explosion,” said Carol Jarvis, who lives in the village of Plaster Rock near where the derailment occurred around 8 p.m. Tuesday.

READ MORE:  After train fires, feds warn Bakken oil may be more flammable than others

Jarvis lives about five miles from the site of the train derailment, which happened in Wapske, about five kilometres outside the village of Plaster Rock.

“There’s several sort of fireworks, explosions there now. We saw there was in fact a fairly large fire.”

Wapske-Derailment-Map

Another Plaster Rock resident said that her husband went down to the scene shortly after it happened.

“He went as far as he could. It was blocked off,” the woman said. “He said he could see flames shooting in the air from quite far away. He could see it very clearly. It was about 50 to 60 feet he told me he could see.”

Plaster Rock Mayor Alexis Fenner said residents have been told not to get near the scene.

She said three fire services and a hazmat team are on scene.

The mayor said all roads have been blocked and shut down by police and the village is figuring out if it needs to enact emergency protocol.

Several homes have been evacuated.

WATCH: Global’s Emily Baron Cadloff describes the scene in Plaster Rock, NB

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The village’s emergency measures co-ordinator says it’s unclear how big the fire is or whether anyone was hurt.

Sharon DeWitt also says only a few cars derailed, but she didn’t know what they were carrying.

READ MORE: ‘Significant weaknesses’ in Transport Canada’s oversight of rail safety: Auditor General

However, CN spokesman Jim Feeny said the train was more than 100 cars long, noting that 15 cars and a locomotive derailed. 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.

The spokesperson also said two crew members were on board the train but neither are injured.

The Canadian Red Cross Atlantic division says a centre has been set up for evacuees at TobiquePlex at 159 Main Street.

WATCH: Raw video of emergency vehicles on scene of nearby train derailment in Plaster Rock

Plaster Rock is approximately 216 kilometres northwest of Fredericton.

- With files from CP

© Shaw Media, 2014

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