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Illinois train derailment, fire force town evacuation

CHICAGO (Reuters) - An entire north-central Illinois community was evacuated after a train carrying ethanol alcohol derailed overnight and caught fire, authorities said on Friday.

The roughly 800-person village of Tiskilwa, more than 100 miles southwest of Chicago, was evacuated after a 131-car train derailed around 2:20 a.m. local time, according to the Bureau County Sheriff's Office.

By late morning, everything was "pretty much under control," said Les Grant, public information officer for the Bureau County Emergency Services and Disaster Administration.

Twenty-six cars on the train derailed, and of those nine contained ethanol, according to Mick Burkart, chief operating officer of the Iowa Interstate Railroad. Of those nine, at least seven were on fire, Burkart said.

Burkart said it will be some time before the cause of the derailment can be determined, given that one car was still on fire as of 11:30 a.m.

The cars that did not derail were pulled away from the affected cars.

"We pulled the rear of the train back away from it, so there would not be further damage," Burkart said. The train had originated in Rock Island, Illinois and was heading to Chicago, where it was going to be taken east by another railroad, Burkart said.

There was an explosion when the derailment happened, said Deputy Cindy Cromwell, a dispatcher in the sheriff's office.

Grant said there were no injuries or structural damage. Some town residents evacuated to Princeton High School, seven miles north of the small town, while others simply went to work, Grant said. The evacuation was voluntary.

(Reporting by Mary Wisniewski; Additional reporting by Lauren Keiper in Boston; Editing by Jerry Norton)