UPDATE: Alma freight train derailment spills up to 20,000 gallon - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

UPDATE: Alma freight train derailment spills up to 20,000 gallons of ethanol into Mississippi River

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ALMA, Wisc. (KTTC) -- BNSF Railway has now confirmed that up to 20,000 gallons of denatured alcohol, or ethanol, spilled into the Mississippi River during a derailment of one of its trains Saturday morning.

Around 8:45 a.m. Saturday, between 25 and 32 freight train cars derailed in Alma, Wisconsin, sending some tumbling into the river. BNSF crews say five tank cars were breached, four spilling between five and 500 gallons of ethanol, and the fifth releasing an estimated 18,000 gallons.

City officials say they had a feeling the river was bound to meet with disaster eventually.

"We've been planning. We knew that this would probably happen at some time," Buffalo County Administrative Coordinator Sonya Hansen said.

Saturday morning, the derailment shut down a stretch of Wisconsin Highway 35 and led to voluntary evacuations of homes and businesses. More than 150 people evacuated, staying at the American Legion for several hours.

Officials with the Buffalo County Sheriff's Office say their training paid off during this incident.

"The response of everyone went very quick. Other than the exception that it actually happened, it went very well," said Colin Severson, the Chief Deputy.

No one was injured in the crash. BNSF estimates the tracks will return to service Monday morning. The company will be working with the EPA to address the ethanol spill.

There's still no word on why the train derailed.

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