Sep 14, 2023

Rail car explosion, fire in North Platte

Posted Sep 14, 2023 11:00 PM
Smoke over the rail yard Thursday-photo by Melanie Standiford/Midwest Media via AP
Smoke over the rail yard Thursday-photo by Melanie Standiford/Midwest Media via AP

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — An explosion inside a shipping container at the world’s largest railyard prompted evacuations in western Nebraska Thursday because of the toxic smoke generated when one of the chemicals aboard caught fire.  Officials lifted the evacuation order just before 6p.m. CDT.

Around noon, an explosion occurred inside an intermodal container on a railcar at Union Pacific’s Bailey Yard in North Platte, though it wasn’t clear what caused the explosion, railroad spokeswoman Robynn Tysver said. No one was injured, and no cars derailed.

Authorities evacuated everyone within a one-mile radius of the explosion in the western end of the railyard because of the smoke, and U.S. Highway 30 was closed between North Platte and Hershey.

Interstate 80 wasn’t affected by the smoke. It wasn’t immediately clear how many homes were included in the mostly rural area that was evacuated on the edge of the city. North Platte, which is about 230 miles east of Denver and about 250 miles  west of Omaha, has a population of about 23,000.

The railroad said the fire had been extinguished by 5:30 p.m. Thursday. Earlier, the North Platte Fire Department said in a in a post on X the evacuations were done because of the fire at the railyard involved “heavy toxic smoke.” 


NORTH PLATTE —At about 12 p.m. CDT, an explosion occurred inside a container at Union Pacific’s Bailey Yard in North Platte, Nebraska, resulting in several cars catching on fire. There was no derailment and the car had been stationary in the yard for a couple hours.

One of the containers involved in the incident contains perchloric acid, a hazardous material, used for a number of things, including food, drug and biocidal products, as well as explosives.

The North Platte Fire Department is evacuating people within a four-mile radius around the explosion. A hotline is available for those impacted with immediate needs. They can call 877-877-2567, Option 1.

No Union Pacific personnel were injured, and our employees have been safely evacuated.

Union Pacific’s hazmat team is also responding.

The cause is under investigation.