A fire that burned several CNfreight cars on the banks of the Fraser River in Prince George was still alight Saturday night, but under control, an official said.
Earlier Saturday, orange flames shot higher than trees after a train derailed and collidedwith another trainin the CN yard near the city.
Three engines from one train and four cars from the other derailed. Several cars — including one tanker — and one engine apparently burned.
Health officials issued a voluntary evacuation order for people living nearby. No one was hurt in the collision.
Water bombers were called in to helpfight the fire, CBC reporter Chris Walker reported from the scene. However, they were not successful.
"The diesel fuel hisses like a barbecue as it escapes and burns," he said.
RCMP Const. Gary Godwin told CBC News thatCN had removed tank cars from the scene, minimizing the chance of a toxic spill.
Most of thecars were carrying lumber,Godwin said.
Emergency crews and hazardous materials teamswere called tothe scene. Crowds of people watched the smoke rise from the wreck as RCMPstopped reporters about 800 metres from the scene, saying it was too dangerous to continue.
"It looks pretty messy here from across the river," Godwin said.
Hundreds ofpeople watched the fire from apark across the river from the scene until police closed it, fearing the tank car containing diesel could explode.
The accident happened at 10 a.m. PTon a section of track in the CN yard across from downtown Prince George.
Some gasoline has leaked into the Fraser River and small slickscould be seen swirling downstream. However, the health officials said it does not pose a risk.
CN spokesmanJim Feeney said the company's safety record has improved since 2005, and it's too early to compare Saturday'sfire witha 2005 derailment near Squamish that spilled a toxic chemical into the Cheakamus River, killing an estimated 500,000 fish.
On Friday, CN was charged with five counts under federal and B.C. environmental legislation resulting from the spill.