By Henning Gloystein, Kevin Jose and Jarrett Renshaw
(Reuters) - A BNSF Railway train loaded with crude oil that derailed and caught fire Thursday afternoon was still burning Friday, and the company warned that shipments along the line could be delayed up to 48 hours.
Local emergency management officials confirmed that five tank cars out of 21 that derailed were on fire, and seven were damaged, including the tank cars that continued to burn.
There were no injuries, BNSF said.
The incident is the latest in a series of derailments in North America and the third in three weeks involving trains hauling crude oil, which has heightened the focus on rail safety.
BNSF said it didn't know what caused the derailment, but said the tank cars were of a newer model, the CPC 1232, which are supposedly better protected against damage than older ones.
The Casualty Prevention Circular (CPC) model 1232 is the newer version of the DOT-111 car manufactured before 2011. The earlier version was criticized by regulators and operators for being prone to puncture.
The CPC 1232 has new safety specifications, including a thicker tank, top-fitting protection and a pressure relief system.
U.S. and Canadian authorities, under pressure to address the spate of fiery accidents, are seeking to phase out the older models. The U.S. Transportation Department has recommended that even these later models be updated with improved braking systems and thicker hulls.
A boom in oil rail shipments across North America and resulting rail accidents have raised concerns over safety. In July 2013, 47 people were killed in the Quebec town of Lac-Mégantic after a train carrying crude oil derailed and exploded.
BNSF said its train originated from North Dakota and derailed in a rural area south of Galena, Illinois, but no injuries were reported.
The train derailed in Galena, Illinois, approximately 164 miles west of Chicago. The line is commonly used to carry crude oil to Chicago before it heads to East Coast refineries.
"Customers may experience delays of 24 to 48 hours on shipments moving through this corridor," the company said in an alert posted on its website.