Eight hundred people evacuated after ethanol train derails and catches fire in Minnesota

Criticism is mounting against Transportation Secretary Buttigieg, who has yet to confirm that he will attend the scene.

"A BNSF train derailed in the Kandoyohi County town overnight," the Minnesota Department of Public Safety reported Thursday. According to the same statement, eight cars were affected in the derailment. Of them, four contained corn syrup and four others were carrying ethanol. After the incident, BNSF notified the public agency that the cars containing ethanol had caught fire.

The approximately 800 residents of Raymond, Minn. had to be evacuated to Prinsburg, a neighboring town, due to the way that ethanol burns, according to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety. Firefighters were dispatched to the area, but no equipment had been requested to control "hazardous materials" until then:

There are no requests for state hazmat teams at this time; however, the State Fire Marshal has sent a fire service specialist as part of a regional mutual aid agreement to provide additional water to help extinguish the fire.

BNSF spokeswoman Lena Kent said a total of 22 cars were affected and that the derailment occurred at 1:02 a.m., according to ABC News. She also acknowledged that she does not know the reason for the incident and does not know when the tracks can be used again.

Governor Tim Walz announced via Twitter that he was aware of the situation and was on his way to the scene. Walz will be joined by Department of Public Safety Commissioner, Bob Jacobson, and the acting director of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, Kevin Reed.

I’ve been briefed on the situation unfolding in Raymond and I’m on my way to the site of the derailment now. Just got off the phone with @SecretaryPete and will be on the ground with local officials soon. The state stands ready to protect the health and safety of the community.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said that the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) was already in the area. He also confirmed that, so far, no injuries or deaths have been reported.

Buttigieg, however, has not yet advised whether he will go to the affected area. The Democratic official has previously been criticized for his handling of train derailments. In the case of the East Palestine, Ohio, train accident, it took the secretary  20 days to go to the affected area. His visit even followed that of former President Donald Trump.

The reasons for this latest accident are still unknown. The National Transportation Safety Board created a team to investigate the reasons behind the event.