Train hauling crude oil derails and sets wagons ablaze in West Virginia

Police said that nine or 10 of the cars had exploded at intervals of about every half hour

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The Independent US

A train hauling crude oil derailed in West Virginia on Monday, setting a number of wagons ablaze, destroying a house and forcing the evacuation of two towns in the second significant oil-train incident in three days.

One or two of the wagons plunged into the Kanawha River, and "a couple are burning," said Robert Jelacic, night shift manager of the West Virginia Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. There were no injuries or deaths, he said.

CSX said the train was hauling 109 wagons from North Dakota to the coastal town of Yorktown, Virginia, where midstream firm Plains All American Pipelines runs an oil depot. It said one person was being treated for potential fume inhalation.

West Virginia State Police First Sergeant Greg Duckworth, who was at the crash site, told Reuters that nine or 10 of the wagons had exploded at intervals of about every half hour. A similar sequence has occurred in a handful of other derailments over the past year and a half, with the fire from one tank heating up gases in the next nearest wagons, causing it to ignite.

"It's a real mess down here," Duckworth said. He said all but 14 of the wagons on the train had been pulled out of harm's way.

A 1-mile-wide area around the incident was being evacuated after a house caught fire because of the accident, Lawrence Messina, spokesman for the West Virginia Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety, told Reuters.

Heavy snow and frigid temperatures were hindering efforts to deal with the incident, Jelacic said.

West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin issued a state of emergency for Kanawha and Fayette counties after the derailment.

Local websites showed images of flames at times twice the height of nearby trees and a thick plume of black smoke near a partly frozen river, with a number of houses nearby.

The latest incident came just two days after a Canadian National Railways train from Alberta's oil sands derailed in a wooded area of northern Ontario. CN said 29 of 100 cars were involved and seven caught fire. No injuries were reported, but the cars were still on fire on Monday.