Washington (AFP) – A freight train derailed in the eastern US state of West Virginia on Monday, sparking a huge blaze, spilling oil into a river and forcing the evacuation of a town, officials said.
A huge orange fireball rose high into the sky above snow covered rooftops after the accident near the towns of Mount Carbon and Deep Water, according to local media footage.
Local resident Eric Oden was in his basement when his sister told him about a loud explosion. Oden said he went outside to see what was going on, according to the Charleston Gazette newspaper.
“It was crazy,” Oden said of the fiery scene, adding that he could feel the heat. “I started to sweat,” he added.
Governor Earl Ray Tomblin declared a state of emergency for Kanawha and Fayette counties, so the affected areas can “have the access they need to resources necessary to handle all stages of the emergency.”
The 109-car CSX freight train travelling from Nebraska to Virginia state was carrying crude oil, some of which spilled into the Kanawha River, Tomblin said. No injuries were immediately reported. Local CBS television affiliate WOWK said authorities had ordered the evacuation of the Powelltown Hollow area.