West Virginia governor declares state of emergency after train derailment

Los Angeles Times | February 16, 2015 | Column by Ryan Parker

Train derailment in West Virginia causes massive fire

A fire burns Monday, Feb. 16 after a train derailment near Charleston, W.Va. Nearby residents were told to evacuate as state emergency response and environmental officials headed to the scene. (John Raby/AP Photo)

A train derailment Monday afternoon in West Virginia caused multiple explosions and a massive fire, officials said.

At least one home near the derailment in Fayette County caught fire and has been destroyed, according to Lawrence Messina, the state's public safety spokesman.

The derailment happened about 1:20 p.m. Eastern time while the 109-car train carrying Bakken crude oil was going east from North Dakota to Yorktown, Va., Messina said. Three hours later, the fire was still burning, he said. 

As many as 15 train cars were involved in the derailment and fire, Messina said. 

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin declared a state of emergency around 6 p.m.

“State officials are on site and will continue to work with local and federal officials, as well as CSX representatives, throughout the incident," Tomblin said in a statement. 

The CSX train was hauling crude oil, which is leaking from at least one of the cars, Messina said. No injuries were reported, he said.

"Our concern is oil is leaking into the Kanawha River," he said. Two water intakes downstream from the treatment plant have been shut down, he said. 

CSX said the company was aware of the situation. "We are working with first responders on the scene to ensure the safety of the community," it said on Twitter.  

Some of the tanker cars exploded, and oil on a portion of the river is on fire, according to the office of Kanawha County Emergency Management & Floodplain Management, which was assisting in the response.

Kanawha County is downriver from Fayette County.

Adena Village, near the derailment, has been evacuated, and authorities were beginning to evacuate homes across the river from the fire about 4:30 p.m., Messina said. At least 100 people have been evacuated, he said. 

Fayette County is about 60 miles southeast of Charleston.

Pictures on social media, which a spokesman for the Montgomery Fire Department confirmed were of the scene, showed fire engulfing the train.

Heavy snow was falling in the area, but Messina said it was unclear if that would help extinguish the fire. 

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West Virginia governor declares state of emergency after train derailment
PAUSE, People of Albany United for Safe Energy
PAUSE is a grassroots group of individuals who have come together to promote safe, sustainable energy and fight for environmental justice. We engage the greater public to stop the fossil fuel industry’s assault on the people of Albany and our environment.