GOGAMA, Ontario — A CN Rail train carrying crude oil derailed early Saturday in northern Ontario, causing numerous tank cars to catch fire and spill into a local river system, the railway and provincial police said.

It was the third CN oil train derailment in northern Ontario is less than a month, and the second in the same area, renewing concerns about the safety of shipping crude oil by train.

Ontario Provincial Police said no injuries were reported in the derailment that occurred at about 2:45 a.m. about 2.5 miles southwest of Gogama, Ontario, which is about 50 miles south of Timmins.

The derailment involved 10 train cars – some of which caught fire and entered the Mattagami River System, police said.

The Gogama Fire Department was called in to assist in containing the blaze, Const. Gillian Coughlin said.

Residents of Gogama and the nearby Mattagami First Nation were being asked to stay inside until further notice for public safety due to possible smoke inhalation, police said.


“There has been nobody injured which is crucial, but we definitely do have an issue going on there with cars that caught fire,” Coughlin said. “That’s why we’re requesting people stay inside.”

Roxanne Veronneau, owner of the Gogama Village Inn, said the fire quickly spread throughout the river and destroyed an exit bridge out of town. Large plumes of smoke could be seen nearby, she said.

“My inn is about 200 feet from the train tracks and it’s a major concern for the people in town … If it had happened in the middle of town we wouldn’t be having a conversation right now because we would have gotten taken out. It would have been horrible being this close and the track runs right through the middle of Gogama.”

In July 2013, a runaway Montreal, Maine & Atlantic railway oil train derailed and exploded in the center of the Quebec town of Lac-Megantic, killing 47 people, some of whom were in a popular local bar that was consumed by flames.

Recent derailments in the U.S. and Canada have increased public concern about the increasing number of oil shipments by rail. On Thursday in the U.S. state of Illinois, 21 of 105 cars on a BNSF Railway oil train derailed in an area where the Galena River meets the Mississippi. BNSF said a resulting fire spread to five rail cars. No injuries were reported.

Also on Thursday, a CN freight train derailed on Thursday about 60 miles east of Hornepayne, Ontario, but there was no leakage from the 16 residue tank cars that contained crude oil or gasoline.


On Feb. 14, a derailment occurred in the same area south of Timmins, when 29 cars loaded with crude oil and petroleum distillates derailed and caused a fire.

Veronneau said efforts to clean up from the latest derailment have been helped because equipment was nearby at the site of the earlier derailment – about 23 miles away.

Coughlin said the cause of the derailment is still under investigation and the Ministry of Environment has been notified. Residents of the nearby Mattagami First Nation are being advised not to consume water from the community source at this time.

Local highways have been closed in the area, including Highway 144 in both directions, police said.

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada has sent investigators to the site.

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