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Oil Train Derails Near Hood River

Eleven oil train cars derailed Friday afternoon in Mosier, Ore., sparking a large fire and forcing an evacuation of the surrounding area. Mosier is a small city near Hood River.

The 96-car Union Pacific train was carrying Bakken crude oil when it had an "undesired emergency application" of the brakes approximately 18 cars back from the head of the train, according to Herb Krohn, a legislative representative for the Union Pacific labor union. The crew "felt a tug" on the train, then looked back and saw smoke, Krohn said.

As of 9:30 p.m. Friday, no oil or fire suppression water reached Rock Creek or the Columbia River, according to a release from the Oregon Department of Transportation. The plan overnight was to cool the derailed cars before applying foam to suppress the fire, the release stated.

Crews are also monitoring air and water quality near the crash site.

The derailment resulted in no injuries, according to Union Pacific Railroad spokesman Aaron Hunt, though the train crew did undergo a toxicology screening.

At least one of the derailed cars spilled oil and caught fire, sending black smoke high into the sky above Interstate 84 and bringing traffic to a standstill around noon Friday. The blaze continued into the night.

Crews evacuated the area within about 1/4 mile of the crash site. Mosier Schools, located near where the derailment occurred, evacuated to the Wahtonka Community School campus in the middle of the school day, the school posted on its website.

The fire shut down I-84 westbound in The Dalles at mile post 87 and eastbound in Mosier at mile post 64. That span of interstate remains closed in both directions until further notice, according to ODOT.

Hood River County issued an air quality advisory for the area surrounding Mosier as a result of the smoke. Health officials warn air quality could reach "potentially unhealthy levels." They have advised residents to stay indoors and avoid strenuous outdoor activity. Hood River County does not have air monitoring equipment, the advisory notes.

The Klickitat County Health Department also issued an advisory for White Salmon and Bingen, Wash., as well. White Salmon and Bingen sit on the Washington side of the Columbia River, opposite Mosier.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said in a statement she is "closely monitoring the situation and ready to make every state resource available as needed." Brown later invoked what is called the Emergency Conflagration Act, which frees up additional state resources to fight the fire.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee called the derailment "another reminder of the risks and concerns of crude-by-rail transport in our region," in a statement. He added, "I will continue to monitor the situation and provide support to Gov. Brown in whatever way we can."

The Columbia Riverkeeper, an organization focused on the river's protection, responded almost immediately to the incident. Executive Director Brett VandenHeuvel took aim at the Vancouver Energy Project in the Port of Vancouver, which, if built, would become the largest oil-by-rail terminal in the U.S.

"We've been saying ever since the oil trains started, it's only a matter of time before we see a problem along the Columbia River," VandenHeuvel said, "and it highlights the threat of bringing additional oil trains down the Columbia to the Tesoro oil facility in Vancouver."

The exact cause of the derailment is still unclear. ODOT released the inspection report for the track where the incident occurred, which flagged a number of issues but no violations.

The derailed train was coming from Eastport, Idaho, bound for Tacoma, Wash. Multiple sources said tank cars landed in nearby Rock Creek, but officials have not found any sign of oil in the creek or the Columbia River.

Local fire departments and state and federal cleanup crews are on the scene. The Gresham Fire Department sent a hazardous materials team, and Hermiston Fire & Emergency Emergency Services also sent teams, according to Lt. Joseph Troncoso with the Portland Fire & Rescue. The Port of Portland Fire Department, which is equipped with a special type of foam used to fight oil fires, also responded.

Inspectors are on scene working to determine the cause of the derailment.

<p>A helicopter flies through the smoke emitted by the oil train fire in Mosier on Friday, June 3, 2016.</p>

John Sepulvado

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A helicopter flies through the smoke emitted by the oil train fire in Mosier on Friday, June 3, 2016.

<p>Chris Hooper, right, of White Salmon watches the fire caused by a derailed oil train in Mosier, Oregon, near Hood River in the Columbia River Gorge on Friday, June 3, 2016.</p>

John Sepulvado

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Chris Hooper, right, of White Salmon watches the fire caused by a derailed oil train in Mosier, Oregon, near Hood River in the Columbia River Gorge on Friday, June 3, 2016.

<p>An oil train fire rages on near the bank of the Columbia River on Friday, June 3, 2016.</p>

John Sepulvado

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An oil train fire rages on near the bank of the Columbia River on Friday, June 3, 2016.

<p>A helicopter flies above the smoke emitted by the oil train fire in Mosier on Friday, June 3, 2016.</p>

John Sepulvado

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A helicopter flies above the smoke emitted by the oil train fire in Mosier on Friday, June 3, 2016.

<p>An oil train fire rages on near the bank of the Columbia River on Friday, June 3, 2016.</p>

John Sepulvado

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An oil train fire rages on near the bank of the Columbia River on Friday, June 3, 2016.

<p>An oil train fire rages on near the bank of the Columbia River on Friday, June 3, 2016.</p>

John Sepulvado

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An oil train fire rages on near the bank of the Columbia River on Friday, June 3, 2016.

<p>Smoke from an oil train fire is seen beyond the Hood River Bridge in the Columbia River Gorge on Friday, June 3, 2016.</p>

John Sepulvado

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Smoke from an oil train fire is seen beyond the Hood River Bridge in the Columbia River Gorge on Friday, June 3, 2016.

<p>An oil train fire rages on near the bank of the Columbia River on Friday, June 3, 2016.</p>

Courtesy of Patrick Mulvihill/Hood River News

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An oil train fire rages on near the bank of the Columbia River on Friday, June 3, 2016.

<p>Smoke and fire at the derailment in Mosier, Oregon. </p>

Courtesy of Patrick Mulvihill/Hood River News

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Smoke and fire at the derailment in Mosier, Oregon.

<p>In this photo provided by Silas Bleakley, a train towing cars full of oil sends up a plume of smoke after derailing Friday, June 3, 2016, near Mosier, Ore. The accident happened just after noon about 70 miles east of Portland. It involved eight cars filled with oil, and one was burning. Highway 84 was closed for a 23-mile stretch between The Dalles and Mosier and the radius for evacuations was a half-mile. </p>

Silas Bleakley via AP

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In this photo provided by Silas Bleakley, a train towing cars full of oil sends up a plume of smoke after derailing Friday, June 3, 2016, near Mosier, Ore. The accident happened just after noon about 70 miles east of Portland. It involved eight cars filled with oil, and one was burning. Highway 84 was closed for a 23-mile stretch between The Dalles and Mosier and the radius for evacuations was a half-mile.

<p>In this photo provided by Silas Bleakley, tank cars, carrying oil, are derailed Friday, June 3, 2016, near Mosier, Ore. The accident happened just after noon about 70 miles east of Portland. It involved numerous cars filled with oil, and one was burning. Highway 84 was closed for a 23-mile stretch between The Dalles and Mosier and the radius for evacuations was a half-mile.</p>

Silas Bleakley via AP

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In this photo provided by Silas Bleakley, tank cars, carrying oil, are derailed Friday, June 3, 2016, near Mosier, Ore. The accident happened just after noon about 70 miles east of Portland. It involved numerous cars filled with oil, and one was burning. Highway 84 was closed for a 23-mile stretch between The Dalles and Mosier and the radius for evacuations was a half-mile.

<p>Traffic backed up on I-84 in Hood River due to oil train derailment in Mosier.</p>

Courtesy of Ben Mitchell/Hood River News

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Traffic backed up on I-84 in Hood River due to oil train derailment in Mosier.

<p>Traffic backed up on I-84 in Hood River, Oregon after a train derailment near Mosier.</p>

Courtesy of Ben Mitchell/Hood River News

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Traffic backed up on I-84 in Hood River, Oregon after a train derailment near Mosier.

<p>In this photo provided by Silas Bleakley, tank cars, carrying oil, are derailed Friday, June 3, 2016, near Mosier, Ore. The accident happened just after noon about 70 miles east of Portland. It involved numerous cars filled with oil, and one was burning. Highway 84 was closed for a 23-mile stretch between The Dalles and Mosier and the radius for evacuations was a half-mile. </p>

Silas Bleakley via AP

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In this photo provided by Silas Bleakley, tank cars, carrying oil, are derailed Friday, June 3, 2016, near Mosier, Ore. The accident happened just after noon about 70 miles east of Portland. It involved numerous cars filled with oil, and one was burning. Highway 84 was closed for a 23-mile stretch between The Dalles and Mosier and the radius for evacuations was a half-mile.

<p>In this photo provided by Silas Bleakley, a closed sign is seen outside a store as a train towing cars full of oil sends up a plume of smoke after derailing Friday, June 3, 2016, near Mosier, Ore. The accident happened just after noon about 70 miles east of Portland. It involved eight cars filled with oil, and one was burning. Highway 84 was closed for a 23-mile stretch between The Dalles and Mosier and the radius for evacuations was a half-mile. </p>

Silas Bleakley via AP

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In this photo provided by Silas Bleakley, a closed sign is seen outside a store as a train towing cars full of oil sends up a plume of smoke after derailing Friday, June 3, 2016, near Mosier, Ore. The accident happened just after noon about 70 miles east of Portland. It involved eight cars filled with oil, and one was burning. Highway 84 was closed for a 23-mile stretch between The Dalles and Mosier and the radius for evacuations was a half-mile.

<p>A train carrying crude oil derailed near the city of Mosier, sparking a fire on Friday, June 3, 2016.</p>

Courtesy of Heidi Smart

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A train carrying crude oil derailed near the city of Mosier, sparking a fire on Friday, June 3, 2016.

<p>A plume of smoke rises from where a train carrying crude oil derailed in Mosier, near Hood River, on Friday afternoon.</p>

Courtesy of Columbia Riverkeeper

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A plume of smoke rises from where a train carrying crude oil derailed in Mosier, near Hood River, on Friday afternoon.

<p>ODOT reported the train fire shut down Interstate 84 westbound in The Dalles at mile post 87 and eastbound in Mosier at mile post&nbsp;64.</p>

Courtesy of Columbia Riverkeeper

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ODOT reported the train fire shut down Interstate 84 westbound in The Dalles at mile post 87 and eastbound in Mosier at mile post 64.

<p>Train derailment fire as seen from Coyote Wall area on Washington state Route 14.</p>

Courtesy of Derek Greenwood

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Train derailment fire as seen from Coyote Wall area on Washington state Route 14.

<p>Smoke rises from an oil train that derailed near Hood River Friday.</p>

Courtesy of Columbia Riverkeeper

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Smoke rises from an oil train that derailed near Hood River Friday.

<p>A view of the fire from state Route 14 on the Washington side of the Columbia River.</p>

Courtesy of Zachary Carver

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A view of the fire from state Route 14 on the Washington side of the Columbia River.

<p>Smoke rises from the train derailment near Mosier, Oregon, as seen from Washington state Route 14 between Bingen and Lyle.</p>

Courtesy of Michelle Nijhuis

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Smoke rises from the train derailment near Mosier, Oregon, as seen from Washington state Route 14 between Bingen and Lyle.

<p>Smoke from a trail derailment fire as seen from Washington state Route 14.</p>

Conrad Wilson

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Smoke from a trail derailment fire as seen from Washington state Route 14.

<p>Smoke rises from an oil train that derailed in Mosier, near Hood River, Friday.</p>

Courtesy of Derek Greenwood

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Smoke rises from an oil train that derailed in Mosier, near Hood River, Friday.

<p>Smoke from a trail derailment fire as seen from Washington state Route 14.</p>

Conrad Wilson

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Smoke from a trail derailment fire as seen from Washington state Route 14.

<p>Smoke from a trail derailment fire as seen from Washington state Route 14.</p>

Conrad Wilson

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Smoke from a trail derailment fire as seen from Washington state Route 14.

Copyright 2016 Oregon Public Broadcasting

OPB Staff
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