In the wake of a major train derailment in Saskatchewan, Saskatoon's fire chief is concerned about the increasing number of trains rolling through the city.

On Tuesday, a train carrying hazardous materials went off the tracks near Clair, Sask., creating an explosion and covering the area in potentially toxic smoke. The community was evacuated until Wednesday morning.

"The first thing you think about is, 'What would happen if it went through our community?'" Paulsen said. "We have been bringing this forward for quite some time. Every time you start bringing rail and commodity through the community, as the frequency increases now, you have the potential for problems."

Saskatoon train

Train tracks at a busy intersection on Idylwyld Drive and 25th Street in Saskatoon. (Steve Pasqualotto/CBC)

According to Paulsen, anywhere between 20 to 40 trains go through Saskatoon per day.

"The point of concern that is coming up of course is the fact that the trains are becoming longer," Paulsen said. "With that we're having a greater propensity for issues."

Paulsen said trains going through Saskatoon have gone from being about 6,000 feet long to now over 12,000 feet. He said one solution is separation.

"Any time you bring rail and road together, I believe it increases possibility of issue," he said.

Since 2005, Paulsen said the number of rails cars in Canada carrying oil products has gone from 500 to 130,000, which is about a 26,000 per cent increase.

Residents react to Clair, Sask. crash

The train that derailed near Clair, Sask. was heading to Saskatoon from Winnipeg.

Saskatoon resident Jeff Breti said he thinks problems are inevitable.

"It's a big job to maintain. Somewhere along the line it's bound to happen," Breti said. "You can't prevent everything all the time. I think they're doing everything possible that they can."

Barbara Schneider walked past the train tracks at Idylwyld Drive and 25th Street on Wednesday. 

"I understand the safety concept of coming through the city, but really, what are we going to do?" Schneider said. "We'll just have to pay more taxes to move the railway out of the city because the city is just growing so large."

Schneider said she doesn't believe there are many ways to prevent train crashes.

"Maybe we need to change our engineers a little more often," she said. "Eighteen hours a day is a hard shift."