(Plummer, Minnesota – March 30, 2012)
The driver of an 18-wheeler died early Saturday morning about 3:30 A.M. when his truck collided with the side of a black tank car in the Canadian Pacific freight train’s consist, derailing two cars, one of which leaked “bunker oil” and resulted in the evacuation of residents of the small northwest Minnesota town of Plummer, MN, at the crossing of CP rails and U.S. Highway 59.
Although the crossing is equipped with mast-mounted flashing lights, there are no gates to protect the driving public from collisions with freight trains. Whether the as-yet unidentified victim could see there was a train crossing the intersection or not is unknown, as darkness coupled with the black tank cars could have created the impression that the crossing was unoccupied.
Wilmar has a population of fewer than 300, and residents were rousted from their beds and relocated as a precaution as the smell of the heavy, thick fuel permeated the night air. One evacuee confirmed the presence of a strong odor in the town.
Hazmat teams from both Detroit Lakes and Moorhead, MN, as well as CP Rail’s environmental response team were all on the scene to monitor and remedy the situation.
The Minnesota State Patrol and Red Lake County Sheriff’s Office were investigating the tragedy along with CP officials.