A CN freight train carrying crude oil and propane derailed Tuesday night in  northwestern New Brunswick, erupting in a fireball that forced the evacuation of about 60 people in the sparsely populated area.

CN (TSX:CNR) said 15 cars and a locomotive derailed in Wapske near the village of Plaster Rock.

Four cars were carrying propane and four others carried crude oil.

The train’s engineer and conductor weren’t hurt. They were the only people aboard the train, CN said.

No reason was given why the train left the tracks.

Sharon DeWitt, emergency measures co-ordinator for Plaster Rock, told the Calgary Herald that  homes were evacuated in the immediate area and firefighters, police and ambulances were on site.

“About 50 to 60 residents within a two-kilometre radius of the fire were evacuated and an evacuation centre for them was set up in a local arena, DeWitt said, though they were staying with family and friends,” the report said.

There were no caualties reported around the evacuated area.

Last week a crude train derailed and exploded near Casselton, N.D. There were no injuries but most of the town’s 2,300 were forced to evacuate while a toxic cloud spread over the area.

In July, a derailment and explosion in Lac-Megantic, Quebec killed 47 people and destroyed much of the town.

In November, a train hauling Bakken crude from North Dakota derailed and exploded in Alabama, spilling more than 700,000 gallons of oil from 26 tanker cars. No one was killed in that accident.

Rail shipments of crude continue to increase.

In 2011, around 68,000 carloads of fuel oils and crude petroleum moved along Canadian rail lines, the Calvary Herald said. “In 2012, that rose to nearly 113,000. Between January and September of 2013 — the most recent data available — some 118,000 carloads had been shipped via rail.”

The amount of oil moving by rail in the U.S. has spiked since 2009, from just more than 10,000 tanker cars to about 400,000 cars in 2013.


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