BNSF: Tracks to open Saturday after Wisconsin train derailment

Tim Bohnencamp lives in De Soto and said the derailment doesn’t impact residents very much, but that they still want to know what caused the crash.
Published: Apr. 28, 2023 at 11:39 AM CDT|Updated: Apr. 28, 2023 at 7:49 PM CDT
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DESOTO, Wis. (WMTV) – The train tracks in western Wisconsin that have been closed since a train derailed on Thursday look to be set to open on Saturday. In a new statement, the company that operates the train indicated main track two would open at 6 a.m., while main track one would be going again at 8 p.m.

In its statement, BNSF indicated company officials learned of the incident, which sent at least two train cars into the Mississippi River, around 12:15 p.m. on Thursday. The company has sent field personnel to assess the situation.

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation is also conducting an investigation into what led to the derailment, which happened about 30 miles south of LaCrosse, near DeSoto. Crawford Co. Emergency Management responded shortly afterwards, as did hazmat teams from Vernon County and BNSF. The NTSB stated Thursday it would not launch an inquiry, but agents would be monitoring the situation.

Train derailment cleanup near De Soto continues Friday.
Train derailment cleanup near De Soto continues Friday.(NBC15)

Tim Bohnencamp lives in De Soto and said the derailment doesn’t impact residents very much, but that they still want to know what caused the crash.

“They don’t know what the cause was but you would think that flooding might have something to do with it,” he said. “Or a rail snapped or sunk in or something I don’t know. They’ll figure it out. I bet.”

Gov. Tony Evers visited the spot of the derailment on Friday. Following his trip, the governor tweeted a video of him walking with response teams, in which he described their efforts as “extraordinary.”

“I’m incredibly grateful for the quick action, collaboration, and cleanup efforts of emergency responders—especially our local partners—who’ve been absolutely critical,” he wrote.

The overturned cars had been carrying lithium-ion batteries, paint, and oxygen containers, among other items. The containers that went into the river were holding paint, which Crawford Co. Emergency Management Director Brandon Larson explained was not hazardous.

Larson added Thursday that no lithium-ion batteries had gone into the river, adding that those types of batteries mixed with water could cause a reaction. He noted that the responding hazmat teams were keeping an eye on that, but they are not currently concerned.

Director of Emergency Management for Crawford County Jim Hackett pointed out diesel fuel had spilled that they are trying to clean up. BNSF General Director of Public Affairs Lena Kent stated the volume of the spillage was not enough to pose a risk to the community.

BNSF crews were working to clean up the cars and build access points to get the cars out of the area. Hackett praised the collaboration between an estimated 20-30 agencies and the community’s response to the incident.

Hackett said four people were taken to receive a medical evaluation. There were no fatalities reported, according to WisDOT. The Crawford County Sheriff’s Office stated in a Facebook post that there was no need for evacuation.

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