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Updated: Train derailment with fire reported in Custer

FERNDALE, Wash. — First responders were dispatched to the area of Main Street and Portal Way in Custer about 11:40am today, December 22nd, due to a report of a train derailment with fire.

Portal Way was closed between Grandview Road and north of Custer. Custer School Road and Stein Road were also closed leading into town.

Plume visible from train derailment with fire in Custer as viewed from Bruce Road (December 22, 2020). Photo My Ferndale News
Plume visible from train derailment with fire in Custer as viewed from Bruce Road (December 22, 2020). Photo My Ferndale News

As of noon, all persons within a half-mile of the fire were being required to evacuate.

About 12:45pm northbound I-5 at Grandview Road and southbound I-5 at Birch Bay-Lynden were closed to all traffic. All side roads near the incident were also closed.

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The dark smoke plume was visible for miles and drifted northwest at a high altitude.

Witnesses who were near the scene of the derailment said they heard what sounded like loud “train humping” and then felt the ground shake along with hearing 2 loud explosions.

The train was hauling cars containing crude oil according to officials at the scene. A segment of the train south of the derailment was driven away about 1pm taking those undamaged cars away from the fire.

Whatcom County Fire District 7 Division Chief Ben Boyko reported they have had no patients as a result of this incident.

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Update 2:20pm – the process of reopening I-5 was begun.

Update 4:45pm – the evacuation order was lifted according to the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office but road blocks into the area near the derailment were to remain in place indefinitely and residents would need to show proof of local residency to go beyond them.

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