The village of Guernsey, Sask., has been evacuated after a train derailment close to the community Thursday morning.
A CP Rail train went off the tracks and caught fire shortly after 6 a.m. CST, more than 100 kilometres southeast of Saskatoon.
Firefighters were going door to door in the village of approximately 100 people and were asking everyone to leave over smoke concerns.
A temporary centre has been set up in the nearby town of Lanigan to receive anyone who needs a place to stay.
The Transportation Safety Board confirmed the train was carrying crude oil, and was travelling eastbound when it went off the tracks approximately 2.5 kilometres east of the village.
Eyewitness Kyle Brown said he saw a huge fire after the train derailed.
Brown was driving through the area when he saw what looked like a huge mushroom cloud in his rear-view mirror shortly after 6 a.m. CST.
“It looks like an inferno,” said Brown. “Like a war zone, really. It is pretty bad.”
When he saw the explosion, Brown raced toward the area. He estimated that between 25 and 30 cars were off the tracks.
CP Rail confirmed its train derailed at about 6:15 a.m. CST, and said emergency responders had been sent out and the company was making initial assessments of the site.
Humboldt RCMP ordered that both lanes of Highway 16 be closed in both directions, as well as the junction with Highway 20. The public is asked to stay away from the area.
I can see flames and crumpled rail cars beneath the plume of black smoke <a href=”https://t.co/l8irDbxgJk”>pic.twitter.com/l8irDbxgJk</a>
Brown went to check on the train’s conductor and engineer to make sure everyone was alright.
He said one of the conductors set up flares on the road to warn motorists.
Another eyewitness, Patty Prentice, was driving to work as a home-care worker when she saw the derailment. She initially thought it was a fuel truck that had driven off the road and caught fire.
She soon realized how large the conflagration was.
“I’m like, ‘holy, is that hot,'” she said. “And how stupid we are to be driving by this right now.”
When she got to her office, she immediately contacted the hospital in Lanigan, about 13 kilometres away from the crash site.
“I said a prayer when I saw the first fire trucks leave Lanigan,” she said. “We’re just praying for the people that are out there taking care of this right now.”
In December, a CP Rail train leaked 1.5 million litres of crude oil after it derailed in the same area.