UPDATE 5-CSX train hauling North Dakota oil derails, cars ablaze in W. Virginia

Mon Feb 16, 2015 9:46pm EST
 
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(Updates with clean-up to take several days; evacuation numbers; water testing; color from scene)

By Kara Van Pelt

BECKLEY, W.Va. Feb 16 (Reuters) - A CSX Corp train hauling North Dakota crude derailed in West Virginia on Monday, setting a number of cars 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 cars plunged into the Kanawha River, said Robert Jelacic of the West Virginia Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.

CSX said the train was hauling 109 cars 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 inhalation of fumes. No other injuries or deaths were reported.

As of 9:30 p.m. local time, billowing flames could still be seen coming from several rail cars and something appeared to be burning on the partially frozen river.

Clean-up was expected to take several days, as the fires burn themselves out, said Joe Crist, Fayette County fire coordinator. About 200 residents were evacuated.

Crist said West Virginia American Water was testing to see if Kanawha River water had become contaminated.

West Virginia State Police First Sergeant Greg Duckworth, who was at the crash site, said that nine or 10 of the cars 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 car, causing it to ignite.   Continued...