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Derailment west of New Hampton leads to evacuations

Derailment west of New Hampton leads to evacuations
This aerial photo by BJ Tiemessen of a train derailment between New Hampton and Ionia — taken before the FAA imposed a no-fly zone over the area — shows cars scattered along the tracks.
By Bob Fenske, [email protected]

A train carrying anhydrous ammonia derailed Saturday afternoon about 3 miles west of New Hampton, forcing Emergency Management Agency officials to order the evacuations of dozens of rural residents from their home.

In a press release Saturday night, Chickasaw County EMA Director Jeff Bernatz said that the westbound Canadian Pacific train derailed just after 4 p.m. and that it was believed that at least one of the cars was carrying anhydrous.

Chickasaw County Sheriff Marty Hemann said Sunday morning that his office was notified about the detrainment at 4:07 p.m. and that he ordered the closure of County Road B-47 between Ionia and New Hampton as a precaution.

Bernatz said in a press release Sunday afternoon that the train was also carrying diesel fuel and that both the train’s conductor and engineer were taken to MercyOne New Hampton Medical Center “as a precaution” and that both were treated and released.

He said multiple agencies and the railroad were continuing to maintain operations to mitigate the incident.

“Families are being allowed back in that were initially evacuated,” Bernatz said in the press release. “Our current weather modeling including wind speed and direction continues to show no danger to the city of New Hampton and its residents. This is ever changing and we will advise the public if conditions change. The Iowa DNR is on scene monitoring water quality downstream.”

In addition to the EMA, the Chickasaw County Sheriff’s Office and the DNR, crews from the New Hampton Fire Department, Ionia Fire Department, Chickasaw Rescue Squad and Chickasaw Ambulance Service also responded to the scene of the derailment.

Bernatz also asked that the public avoid the area while crews work to clean up the incident, and that as of Sunday afternoon, 220th Street between Jasper and Ivanhoe avenues remained closed.

In an update late Monday morning, the New Hampton Fire Department said, “CP crews are continuing to work to mitigate the incident that occurred near the intersection of 220th Street and Ivanhoe Court. At this time 220th Street remains closed to thru traffic due to heavy truck operations in the area.

“We are still asking the public to avoid this area. Additional signage is being placed informing the public of the closure and how to detour.”

The FAA has also designated a no-fly zone over the site for an altitude up to 3,000 feet and a radius of 3 miles around the derailment, prohibiting among other things unmanned drone flights.

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