UPDATE 11 p.m. Monday —  CSX announced it was continuing an assessment to determine the number of cars derailed and the oil spilled. It said crews were working to contain oil found in Armstrong Creek that runs parallel to the company’s tracks. The company also said fires around some of the wrecked cars would be allowed to burn out.

The company will open a Community Outreach Center Tuesday morning at Glen Farris Inn.

The U.S. Department of Transportation also late Monday night announced Federal Railroad Administration Acting Administrator Sarah Feinberg and the agency’s chief safety officer, Robert Lauby, would be traveling to West Virginia to survey the site.

MOUNT CARBON, W.Va. — Multiple tanker rail cars carrying crude oil derailed Monday afternoon in Fayette County, triggering explosions and a 100-yard-high flames as several cars rolled through a residential subdivision and into the Kanawha River.  CSX officials say “at least one rail car appears to have ruptured and caught fire.” 

At least one house was destroyed, but police have found no evidence of fatalities. CSX said one person was treated for potential inhalation (of fumes).  

In a statement Monday evening CSX said its teams “are working with first responders to address the fire, to determine how many rail cars derailed and to deploy environmental protective and monitoring measures on land, air and in the nearby Kanawha River.  

An undetermined number of cars of the CSX train, believed to be 12-15, 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.”  (Listen to Fitzwater’s full interview above.)

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 highly flammable Bakken crude from North Dakota to Yorktown, Va. Governor’s spokesman Chris Stadleman said it was unclear what caused the derailment or how many cars tumbled into the river.

State Public Safety spokesman Larry Messina said first responders had 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 and at WVU Tech’s gymnasium in Montgomery. CSX said it is working with the Red Cross and other relief organizations to address residents’ needs, taking into account winter storm conditions.

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.”

CSX said “The train consisted of two locomotives and 109 rail cars and was traveling from North Dakota to Yorktown, Va.”  Gov. Tomblin’s office said the train was hauling Bakken crude.

Bakken crude produced in the booming regions of Montana and North Dakota could be more flammable and more dangerous to ship by train than crude from other areas, U.S. regulators announced in January. A four-month study by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration could force more rigid labeling of contents and require petroleum to be shipped in stronger rail cars.

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  • Bob

    Not sure what is more surprising, this spill or the uneducated folks that think these derailments could be somehow avoided by taxpayer subsidized pipelines for the oil companies and piping 100% of crude underground to all users nationwide

  • joe smith

    Prayers to the residents, crew and responders. BTW, today's not a good day to be touting solar.

  • don in berkeley

    Pipelines are much safer than rail shipments of crude. But the real important pipeline is the one that ships money from the environmental nuts to the White House.

    • MontanaTrace

      That's why Resident Obama is blocking the pipeline. Warren Buffett owns the trains. Makes millions. Oil companies will use the less expensive pipe. Buffett gives huge money to Obama, the Dems and the EPA to block the Keystone.

      • Tim

        Warren Buffett has shares in BNSF, not CSX

  • Jim

    Sad with all these industrial accidents and spills and coal mine accidents it makes like it's dangerous to live in WV, or at the very least it's not a good place to live if you want to enjoy life.

    • 2brknot2bfree

      I enjoy life here in WV just fine. Just moved here from western NY, and wouldn't change for anything. Better to live in freedom than be chained by laws, regulations, and rules applied by government ignorance, or purposeful intent to cause harm.

      • Wowbagger


  • Ali Bama

    Loved how there was a WV Manufacturer's Association meeting earlier in the day to basically say the river is their toilet.

    Maybe people who care about the environment have some points. Eventually the coal will be gone and you will be left with nothing but ruined landscape, no jobs and poor health.

    • dd

      the river is not a tolet. lots of people swin in it and boat on it. it is kept clean under the fed gov epa regs. any more bs

    • 2brknot2bfree

      You talk as if this has never happened anywhere in any other state of the union? Taking from the land to make life better for himself, and others, is what mankind does. To discourage that only proves what silly people enviro-wacko's are.

      • Hoover

        You sound simple.

        Anyone who wants limits on whatever industry desires is an "enviro-wacko."

        Please go back to New York state; we have enough idiots like you in these hills.

        • Kitty Litter

          Don't forget. If the keystone pipeline is ever completed from Canada, the environmental zealots may consider sabotaging the pipeline in order to prove that rail is still safer to use. They may even try to sabotage both. Of course for the greater good of the planet.

        • Jonus Grumby

          So, when you disagree with someone's post, you attack them personally? I understand now.

          • vatd

            it is just the world we live in now. dog eat dog and every man for himself. ftw!

  • john public

    There was a huge wreck on the way there as trial attorneys raced to the scene.

    • Dennis

      They won't need lawyers to sue for this. The details of these oil shipments in the U.S. are protected by Homeland Security. They will never let this get near any courtroom in the country.

    • Harvey

      Sadly, you are probably correct. Let's hope the folks involved are given a decent interval to be sure no one is seriously hurt, to assess their losses and then decide if they need legal help. I suspect the cause will be self evident--broken rail pull apart due to the cold weather and inadequate track inspection.

  • Jeff

    I heard the oil leak actually improved water quality in the Kanawah

  • Hoover

    This isn't too different from what Dave Yaussy, Rebecca Randolph, and the folks at the WV Manufacturer's Association want to do all over West Virginia.

    According to the WVMA, there's no reason to protect our beautiful streams and rivers if there isn't a drinking water intake nearby.

  • Not Long Off

    This state and country are doomed. Just kept cracking the jokes and blames.

    • Charleston

      Agree. Prayer to the victims, if any.

  • Sue Laflamme

    Because no state ever needs infrastructure repair and oversight...WV :-(

    • ViennaGuy

      Railroad track and rights-of-way are owned by the railroads, not the state, and are subject to federal regulation, not state regulation.

      A state infrastructure bill would have exactly zero effect on the railroads.

  • Sophie Katt

    It could have been SOOOOO much worse, though.

    I mean, what if it had been a train car full of solar energy?

    The horrors.

    • Charleston

      Nice enviro jab. The only problem with your argument is that the only way to harness your solar energy is in a form chemical energy in a battery. Sadly, if this accident occurred as with you example, yeah, it could have been much worse. Thanks for the politicizing the event though. I am sure the folks in Deepwater are really concerned with your jibe

      • Hoover

        STFU Charleston. You're wrong.

        Solar-generated electricity goes right into the grid.

        • dd

          and has failed your own fed gov(tva) 2 times since april 2011

        • Charleston

          Excuse me? SK made the reference to a train carrying "solar energy", to whatever that means. I understand where solar energy comes from, the sun. However, as you stated it goes into the grid, I get it. You can't transfer/carry it on a train, though, unless it was stored in another medium such as a battery. It was a poor analogy for the green cause. That's all I was saying. It's pretty sad too that whenever an accident like this occurs in its immediacy that someone makes some political jab. Moving on now.

  • Doug Bess


    Mt. Carbon is east of Montgomery not west as you said on the radio.

    • Jeff

      Actually it's more SouthEast than East.

  • little b

    Golly gee. Pipelines are bad for the environment. Rail is so much safer. We should all listen to the HOLY ONE BOBO and just trust his HOLINESS.

    • Fentanyl Bomb

      I guess the argument can be made that rail transport itself is safe.

      The DOT 111 tank car is suspect. It is an older design that has proven prone to catastrophic leaks. Not sure if this particular derailment involved 111s, but odds are that is what they are. They carry 80% of oil transport by rail.

      That is secondary, though, to the safety of the RR crew and those that are moving in to mitigate this event. May they all return to the warmth of their families tonight.

      • dd

        the tanks that split were not the dot 111./ they were only 4 years old

  • RogerD

    Yet Obama and his leftist evirons and his crony capitalists continue their fight against the pipeline because of safety and environmental concerns. The White House stand has nothing to do with the Buffet rail business and his political contributions. Right!

    • aurens66

      pipelines are even worse because leaks can go on for weeks or months before they are stopped, and spill far more oil, also, pipeline spills often are never reported in the media.

      • Vickie Lafon


    • Justin

      Buffett has nothing to do with csx. Just saying. He owns BNSF

    • too bad so sad

      My BRK.A stock keeps on soarin' -- LOVIN IT.

    • Derp

      To say nothing of those selfish American citizens who don't want their land taken away and given to a foreign company....

      Yeah, that sets a great precedent.

      Hope the government wants to take from you to give to foreign investors next.

    • j_is_good

      Because pipelines lines are SO much safer...




    • ViennaGuy

      This derailment is the fault of the Republicans in the Legislature. They wanted the train to derail because they wanted to pollute the river and destroy the house. They are evil capitalists.


  • Toxic Avenger

    Another good reason to make the river drinkable.

    • jim

      Toxic Wanter, do not drink any water.