‘We were very scared:’ Woman describes fiery derailment near Lanigan, Sask.

No injuries were reported and evacuations had not been ordered

Emergency crew respond to CP Rail train hauling crude oil that derailed near Guernsey, Sask. on Monday, December 9, 2019. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Liam Richards)

Emergency crew respond to CP Rail train hauling crude oil that derailed near Guernsey, Sask. on Monday, December 9, 2019. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Liam Richards)

A woman who witnessed the aftermath of a crude oil freight train derailment in central Saskatchewan says the only other time she’s seen flames like that was on television.

Melanie Loessl lives on a rural property about six kilometres from Guernsey near where Canadian Pacific Railway reported a train had derailed about midnight Sunday.

Loessl’s land runs along the railway tracks and she says she’s so used to the sound of trains she didn’t hear anything.

But when she emerged from her home about 1:45 a.m., after firefighters arrived on her property, she saw a roaring blaze at the end of her driveway.

“You could hear the hissing and noise from the cars that were on fire and there was just an enormous amount of flames. You couldn’t imagine it,” she said Monday.

“I was in awe.”

READ MORE: Faulty coupling cited as cause of fatal B.C. logging train derailment

Loessl said she went to see her daughter, who lives nearby, and they talked to firefighters about where to go if they needed to leave.

“We were very scared. We didn’t know if the cars would actually blow up or what they would do.”

CP said in a statement no injuries were reported and evacuations had not been ordered.

Loessl said she had been asked to leave as a precaution around 4 a.m. because the direction of the wind could change, but she returned home about six hours later.

“It’s just so black and it smells really bad,” she said.

The fire was burning close to the road. CP said emergency response and haz-mat crews had been deployed and were working with first responders to assess and minimize any impact to the surrounding area.

RCMP blocked traffic on Highway 16 between Guernsey and Plunkett because of smoke from the blaze. The highway was still closed Monday afternoon.

READ MORE: B.C. train that derailed and killed three ‘just started moving on its own’

The Saskatchewan government said fire crews were expected to extinguish the fire later Monday and that the smoke would subside. Oil cleanup was also to begin.

It said environmental protection officers were monitoring the site and the air quality, but no advisories had been issued.

“At this time there is no concern to public safety,” said a government statement.

CP said an investigation was underway into the cause of the derailment. There was no immediate word on how many rail cars were involved.

Loessl said there was too much smoke to see how many train cars went off the tracks, but it appeared to have happened at a crossing.

“I just see a pile of cars,” she said.

“At the end of my driveway, I cannot look across to the east because the smoke is so black you cannot see anything.”

She believes some oil may have spilled at the end of her pasture and is worried about the possibility of her wells having been contaminated.

CP said initial reports indicated there was no impact on any waterways. Crews were working to clean up, remove derailed cars and restore the area.

— By Stephanie Taylor in Regina

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Island Health has confirmed the first long term care facility outbreak in Greater Victoria at Veterans Memorial Lodge in Saanich. (Google Maps)
Island Health records first long-term care COVID outbreak in Greater Victoria

Veterans Memorial Lodge in Saanich confirms one positive staff member

Itty, a Siamese cat, has been missing since a house fire in Victoria’s Fernwood neighbourhood on Friday, Nov. 27. Her owner says she has white fur with blonde and grey markings. (Facebook/ROAM)
Cat goes missing after house fire in Fernwood neighbourhood

‘Itty’ has white fur, blonde and grey markings and blue eyes

An aerial view over Oak Bay. (Black Press Media File Photo)
An aerial view over Oak Bay and the Marina. Oak Bay residents pay the highest taxes on Vancouver Island. Don Denton/Black Press
Oak Bay secondary suites study considers units old and new

Secondary suites draft report due in new year

Westcoast Impressions plans to organize a COVID-19 friendly version of the event in 2021 at the Mary Winspear Centre after having cancelled the 2020 version against the backdrop of pandemic. The opening night of the 2019 Sidney Street Market featured more than 150 vendors lined along Beacon Avenue. (Black Press Media file photo)
Sidney Street Market plans for 2021 return at Mary Winspear Centre

Tentative plan calls for the event’s return to Beacon Avenue after COVID-19 pandemic

(Dave Landine/Facebook)
VIDEO: Dashcam captures head-on crash between snowplow and truck on northern B.C. highway

Driver posted to social media that he walked away largely unscathed

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

A B.C. Ambulance Service paramedic wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 moves a stretcher outside an ambulance at Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Top doctor urges Canadians to limit gatherings as ‘deeply concerning’ outbreaks continue

Canada’s active cases currently stand at 63,835, compared to 53,907 a week prior

A Canadian Pacific freight train travels around Morant’s Curve near Lake Louise, Alta., on Monday, Dec. 1, 2014. A study looking at 646 wildlife deaths along the railway tracks in Banff and Yoho national parks in Alberta and British Columbia has found that train speed is one of the biggest factors. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Study finds train speed a top factor in wildlife deaths in Banff, Yoho national parks

Research concludes effective mitigation could address train speed and ability of wildlife to see trains

A airport worker is pictured at Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C. Wednesday, March 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Canada extends COVID restrictions for non-U.S. travellers until Jan. 21 amid second wave

This ban is separate from the one restricting non-essential U.S. travel

Menno Place. (Google Street View image.)
B.C. care home looks to hire residents’ family members amid COVID-19-related staff shortage

Family would get paid as temporary workers, while having chance to see loved ones while wearing PPE

A man walks by a COVID-19 test pod at the Vancouver airport in this undated handout photo. A study has launched to investigate the safest and most efficient way to rapidly test for COVID-19 in people taking off from the Vancouver airport. The airport authority says the study that got underway Friday at WestJet’s domestic check-in area is the first of its kind in Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Vancouver Airport Authority *MANDATORY CREDIT*
COVID-19 rapid test study launches at Vancouver airport for departing passengers

Airport authority says that a positive rapid test result does not constitute a medical diagnosis for COVID-19

A small crash in the water south of Courtenay Saturday afternoon. Two men had to be rescued, but reports indicate there were no serious injuries. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Small plane crash in Comox Valley waters Saturday afternoon

Two rescued from plane that had flipped in water; no serious injuries reported

A photo from 2017, of Nuchatlaht First Nation members outside court after filing a land title case in B.C. ( Submitted photo/Nuchatlaht First Nation).
Vancouver Island First Nation calls on B.C. to honour UNDRIP in historic title case

Nuchatlaht First Nation says Crown counsel continues to stall the case using the ‘distasteful’ argument that the Nation ‘abandoned’ their land

Most Read