WOLF POINT, Mont.—It's tough to miss the increasing numbers of trains hauling crude out of the Northern Plains. Destined for refineries across the U.S. and Canada, they rumble through wheat fields and towns, along rivers and national parks.

But interviews with officials in dozens of towns and cities where oil trains travel reveals widespread concern that some communities aren't adequately prepared for a major derailment, spill or explosion.

A July crude train crash in Quebec that killed 47 people stoked those fears. In November, several cars exploded in a rural Alabama derailment.

Oil train traffic has grown roughly forty-fold since 2009. The trains now pass regularly through rural communities far from any hazmat team and with scarce resources to handle a spill.

Railroads say they deliver 99.99 percent of hazardous materials safely.