MOUNT CARBON, W.Va. — Multiple tanker rail cars carrying crude oil derailed Monday afternoon in Fayette County, triggering explosions and a huge fire as several cars rolled through a residential subdivision and into the Kanawha River.
At least one house was destroyed, but police have found no evidence of fatalities.
The CSX train jumped the tracks at about 1:20 p.m. Eyewitness Randy Fitzwater of Boomer said he thought a plane had crashed.
“I heard this loud noise. It sounded like a jet airplane flew over my house and then I heard an explosion,” Fitzwater told Metronews. “I looked across the river and I could see this big ball of flame.”
Another eyewitness, who declined to give her name, told Metronews “the flames were going at least 300 feet in the air … black smoke everywhere.” She reported hearing several explosions “that shook my whole house. I could feel the heat through my door.”
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s office said the tanker cars were carrying Bakken crude from North Dakota to Yorktown, Va. Spokesman Chris Stadleman said it’s still not clear what caused the derailment or how many cars tumbled into the river.
State Public Safety spokesman Larry Messina said first responders were having trouble reaching the scene because of road conditions from the snowstorm and the derailment itself.
Mount Carbon residents in the Adena Village area, which is just a few miles from Montgomery on state Route 61, were being evacuated. Residents across the river in Boomer also were told to leave their homes.
An evacuation shelter was set up at Valley Elementary School in Smithers, W.Va.
With water intakes at Montgomery and Cedar Grove closed, residents were asked to conserve water.
West Virginia American Water reported the intake for the Montgomery water treatment plant, which draws water from the Kanawha River a few miles downstream from the derailment, was shut down by 2:30 p.m. Spokeswoman Laura Jordan said the Montgomery treatment plant “was shut down before anything could reach the intake.”
Evacuation order expanded after train derailment near Adena Village and Boomer Bottom
4:15 p.m. UPDATE:
Firefighters with the Boomer Fire Department said that there have been at least six explosions in connection with the fire that started from a CSX train that derailed in the Powelltown Hollow area of Fayette County on Monday, Feb. 16, 2015. The derailment happened at around 1:30 p.m.
The train was traveling from North Dakota to Yorktown, VA carrying crude oil. The scene extends along WV Route 61, near Armstrong Creek road. According to firefighters, the largest explosion happened near a house that was between the railroad tracks and the Kanawha River. They do not believe anyone was home at the time. State Troopers said there have been no fatalities reported.
Crews said oil is burning everywhere. There are some environmental concerns if the oil is under the frozen spots in the river. Crews on the scene said that the oil in those locations will not burn and will have “all kinds of negative impacts on the water.”
3:00 p.m., UPDATE:
Water intakes in Montgomery and Cedar Grove have been closed because of the train accident along the Kanawha River. That is according to the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources Bureau for Public Health.
It is confirmed that the train was carrying crude oil, some of which spilled into the Kanawha River. While the intakes are closed, customers are urged to conserve water. The Montgomery Water System is part of West Virginia American Water Co. The company released a statement regarding the accident.
“West Virginia American Water is aware of the train derailment just east of Montgomery on the Fayette-Kanawha County line. The Montgomery water treatment plant, which draws water from the Kanawha River a few miles downstream of the accident, was shut down at approximately 2:30 p.m.,” said Laura Jordan, the External Affairs Manager. “Customers in the Montgomery area are asked to conserve water and only use it for essential functions at this time. West Virginia American Water is working with emergency responders and the Bureau for Public Health on continued response efforts.”
The West Virginia State Police expanded the evacuation order for the area at around 3:15 p.m. to include anyone with half of a mile of the fire. Anyone who is not responding to the scene as a part of the emergency crews is asked to avoid the area.
2:30 p.m., UPDATE:
Dispatchers have announced that the towns of Adena Village and Boomer Bottom are being evacuated because of a nearby train derailment.
Officials said Route 61 is being shut down as a result of the derailment. A shelter is being set up at Valley Elementary School for people who are being evacuated.
According to Lawrence Messina, communications director for the West Virginia Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety, at least one tanker has fallen into the river, and authorities believe crude oil is in the tanker. Messina said officials were unsure if anything else was in the tanker.
Messina said the Department of Environmental Protection also was responding to the accident to assess the situation.
2:21 p.m., Original Story: Firefighters and emergency crews have responded to a train accident in Montgomery, WV busy.
The accident happened at about 1:30 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 16, 2015. Details on what exactly happened are still limited at this time. Officials have said that a train has derailed. The location of the accident is near Montgomery, within a four mile radius. Watch for updates hear and on the air as information becomes available.
— Tega McGuffin (@tegamcguffin) February 16, 2015