Train derailment, spill prompts evacuations in Ellendale, Minnesota

ELLENDALE, Minn. (AP) -- A Union Pacific train derailment and hazardous chemical spill has prompted evacuations in the small southern Minnesota town of Ellendale and the closure of a state highway. No injuries have been reported.

Authorities described the evacuation as precautionary. About 700 people live in the town 80 miles south of the Twin Cities. The school district canceled classes for the day. The Red Cross was helping residents evacuated to a church.

Steele County Sheriff Lon Thiele and Administrator Laura Elvebak say an unknown number of cars on the 146-car train derailed about 5:45 a.m. Friday, about half a mile south of Ellendale. Two were carrying propane and butane.

The state Transportation Department says Highway 30 is closed in the area until cleanup is complete. Hazardous materials crews are at the scene.

Update from Steele County (12:30 p.m.)

As of 12:00 p.m., the evacuation of residents within the City of Ellendale will be removed. Residents will be allowed back into their homes. An area of approximately 400 feet directly surrounding the derailment site will remain closed to the public until further notice and individuals are reminded to abide by all road closures within the area and not go around barricades or law enforcement/fire department. The air space restriction is also being removed.

The Sheriff’s Office, Ellendale Fire and Rochester CAT team will remain on site and continue to monitor and work with the Union Pacific regarding the response. Union Pacific Railroad will be responsible for the removal and clean up as the situation is deemed safe.

At this time there is no threat to the public outside of the “hot zone” of 400 feet.