BECKLEY, W.Va. — As the smoke clears and the fire continues to burn itself out, more details are being learned about the train derailment that took place in Fayette County near Mount Carbon on Monday.
Just after 1 p.m., a CSX train hauling crude oil went off the tracks and caught fire. Nearby towns and villages were evacuated — totaling between 100 and 125 people — when the train started to explode and burn.
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has declared a state of emergency for Fayette and Kanawha County.
“Declaring a State of Emergency ensures that residents of both Kanawha and Fayette counties have the access they need to resources necessary to handle all stages of the emergency,” Tomblin said. “State officials are on-site and will continue to work with local and federal officials, as well as CSX representatives, throughout the incident.”
Residents of the area reported seeing fireballs that were like the “wrath of God.”
Early reports said one or more train cars fell into the river, potentially spilling oil or other transport material into the water.
Communications Director Larry Messina for the West Virginia Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety said those reports were false.
“I believe the severity of the fire was such that emergency responders were unable to get close enough to the scene to assess the situation in detail,” he said. “As time went on, and responders were able to get a better handle on what they were dealing with, it became apparent that there were no cars in the water…