The Sideshow

Train derails; rail cars full of alcohol burst into flames

One of the alcohol-filled trains photographed as it explodes (Kely Gray/Billings Gazette)

A train traveling through Montana derailed on Sunday, and eight of its cars carrying alcohol burst into flames.

The Billings Gazette reports that no one was injured in the derailment and subsequent fire, which spread to eight of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) train's 15 derailed rail cars. Fourteen of those cars are said to have been carrying denatured alcohol, a fuel additive, while the 15th car was carrying cardboard.

"Eight cars are on fire. It was a chain reaction of one car catching fire and another car catching fire as well," BNSF spokesman Gus Melonas told the paper. "It's a fuel additive. There are no air-quality issues. They are letting the product burn."

Firefighters initially raced to the scene to put out a grass fire at the crash site but retreated a half mile away before the rail cars exploded.

"We were just waiting for the cars to blow up and got a good mushroom percussion," firefighter Kelly Gray told the paper. Gray captured an image of the rail cars exploding into a mushroom cloud of flames.

"The heat felt like your eyebrows were going to singe," she said.

Amazingly, BNSF crews said that the track is expected to be back open for business on Monday.