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Several train cars carrying hazardous material on fire after derailing in North Dakota

Between 25 and 30 train cars carrying hazardous materials derailed in North Dakota early on July 5. (Provided Photo/Doug Zink/AP via CNN Newsource)

(CNN) — A train derailed in North Dakota early Friday morning and several cars carrying hazardous material are still on fire, according to local authorities.

Foster County Emergency Management Director Andrew Kirking told CNN 911 was notified about the train derailment in the small town of Bordulac, about 140 miles northwest of Fargo, between 3:30 a.m. and 4 a.m. local time.

Kirking said the train was carrying “intact hazardous materials,” so authorities have been monitoring air quality near the incident. Between 25 and 30 cars derailed.

The North Dakota Department of Environmental Quality told CNN the train was carrying anhydrous ammonia, sulfur and methanol. Anhydrous ammonia, a gas widely used as a nitrogen-based fertilizer, can be extremely dangerous in high quantities, triggering explosions and causing dehydration and severe burns in humans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In a Facebook post, the department said it is monitoring the remediation and cleanup of the derailment.

Kirking added local crews, including the Carrington Fire Department, regional hazardous material officials and Canadian Pacific also responded to the scene. Crews will work through the night Friday to extinguish the fires, cool the rail cars and remove hazardous material from them, Kirking said in a statement. They’re also preparing the site for heavy equipment to remove the rail cars.

The county is working to keep residents safe, stabilize the incident and minimize environmental impact, Kirking said Friday night.

Canadian Pacific Kansas City, the train operator, said in a statement provided Friday to CNN the company “is continuing its comprehensive, coordinated response” to the derailment in collaboration with local officials.

The statement continued: “CPKC response crews, including senior officers from our operations, environmental and hazardous materials teams, are on scene coordinating closely with emergency response officials. The safety of the public and emergency responders is CPKC’s first priority.”

Crews are trying to bridge a gap over a bog to fight the fires and get heavy equipment to move the train cars, Kirking told CNN. They used two pumping trailers to douse the derailed cars, he said.

“Our objective is to get the fire out in the next 12 to 18 hours,” Kirking said. “We are starting to get a little water on it right now.”

Kirking said getting the train cars removed will be a bit more tedious and will likely take more than a week or two.

He said all residents within a one-mile radius of the derailment were notified of the incident and potential hazards. Consequently, Kirking said, they have issued a voluntary evacuation.

The cause of the derailment is still under investigation, he said, adding the engineer and conductor were the only people on board the train and they escaped safely.

“Right now, based on the elevation, we think that the spill material can be contained around those railroad tracks and will not impact any water source,” Kirking said.

Kirking said it is too early to tell if the hazardous material has leaked into any waterways, but an environmental crew is coming out to set up to prevent any pollution.

In a post on X, the National Transportation Safety Board said it is investigating the derailment.