Tanker train derails near Alma, Wis. along Mississippi River

- A large Burlington Northern tanker train derailed along the Mississippi River approximately two miles north of Alma, Wis. on Saturday morning, prompting several road closures and a temporary voluntary evacuation of the area. 

The train was traveling southbound along the Mississippi River when it derailed around 8:50 a.m., according to a division of the Wisconsin Emergency Management team. At least 25 cars went off the tracks, including empty auto racks and tanker cars of denatured alcohol, commonly known as ethanol. Aerial footage of the site shows two of the 25 derailed cars in the water. 

Five of the cars released have released ethanol into the river, BNSF Railway said in a statement. No fire, smoke or injuries occurred. 

Parts of Highway 37 and 35 were temporarily closed due to the incident, but all roads are now back open. The residents in the affected area who voluntarily evacuated have returned to their homes. 

Emergency crews are working with BNSF and the La Crosse hazmat regional team to evaluate the derailment. The Federal Railroad Administration is also investigating the incident. 

Severson said there is no danger to the public.

“Everybody responded very quickly and it's good as it can be. It’s gone very well," Severson said. 

BNSF statement

At about 8:45 CST this morning a train carrying freight of all kinds derailed approximately two miles north of Alma, WI. Twenty five cars derailed, including empty auto racks and tanker cars of denatured alcohol, more commonly known as ethanol. There were no fires or injuries associated with the incident. A voluntary evacuation has been lifted and there is no threat to the public.  Five of the tanker cars of ethanol have had releases in the Mississippi River. BNSF personnel are working to address the leaks and contain the product. BNSF will work with the EPA and state agencies on the best plan for mitigation and remediation efforts.

We regret any inconvenience the voluntary evacuation may have caused residents. For those who incurred expenses while temporarily evacuated earlier today, BNSF’s Claims Department can be reached at 763-782-3354.

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