There were no reports of injuries from the accident, said Sgt. Tara Morris with the Cass County Sheriff’s Office, but “with the oil on fire there are hazardous conditions, and we are directing all people in the area to shelter in-place and stay indoors.”
Firefighters will be forced to let the fire burn out, which may take as long as 12 hours from the time of the accident (2:12 p.m. CT), because they cannot get close enough to the flames, she told CNN.
The incident occurred one mile west of Casselton, a town of 2,300 residents about 25 miles west of Fargo. Huge plumes of smoke could be seen in Fargo, Morris said
There is a Code Red alert for people who are within a 2-mile radius of the fire, according to CNN affiliate KVLY.
KVLY reported that the wind was out of the northwest, so the smoke may miss Casselton. Morris later told CNN that a portion of the town was being evacuated in case the winds shift.
She said it was unclear how the accident happened and authorities are trying to determine whether one of the trains derailed before they collided.
About 10 of the cars on the train carrying oil were fully engulfed in flames. At least a dozen firefighters are involved, she said.
An official with the Federal Railroad Administration said it will support a National Transportation Safety Board investigation of the accident.
CNN’s Aaron Cooper and Carma Hassan contributed to this report.