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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Oregon Legislature. This is a venue for political and policy coverage of the state government in Salem and its impact on the people of Oregon.

Oil Train Fire Tests Oregon's New Response Plan

Black smoke billowed high into the sky above Interstate 84 Friday afternoon after 11 oil train cars derailed near Mosier, Oregon. At least one of the derailed cars spilled oil and caught fire.

The oil train fire in the Columbia Gorge is the first one since Oregon lawmakers approved funding for a hazardous materials incidents plan last year.

The measure created a new position in the Office of the Oregon State Fire Marshal to plan a response to oil train derailment. Democratic Rep. Barbara Smith Warner sponsored the bill.

"This is exactly why we wanted to be as prepared as possible if something like this happened,” Smith Warner said. “And so, fingers crossed, we are hoping and praying that the preparation will do us well."

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown issued a statement saying she is closely monitoring the situation and is ready to make additional state resources available as needed.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee called the derailment and fire, "another reminder of the risks and concerns of crude-by-rail transport in our region."

The 96-car Union Pacific train was carrying Bakken crude oil when it had an “undesired emergency application” of the brakes approximately 18 cars back from the head of the train near Hood River.

Emergency crews and hazardous materials experts are still on-scene to try to contain the spill and put out the blaze. There were no injuries, according to a Union Pacific Railroad spokesman.

OPB staff contributed to this report.