A CSX train carrying tankers of crude oil derailed in downtown Lynchburg, Va., Wednesday afternoon, according to city officials, exploding into flames and spilling oil into the James River.
In a statement, CSX said that 15 cars had derailed as the train traveled from Chicago to Virginia. "An initial assessment that three of the cars were on fire," said the statement, "and we have been advised by fire officials that the fire has been extinguished."
JoAnn Martin, director of communications for the city, said three or four of the cars are leaking, some of them into the river. It was not known how fast the train was traveling.
Martin said emergency responders evacuated four or five blocks in the immediate area, affecting 350 individuals. There have been no reported injuries, and the cause of the derailment has not been determined. Officials from CSX are reportedly on the scene.
Martin said that a state HAZMAT team was en route, and city officials had been told that the railroad company's CEO was on the way to Lynchburg.
"We are committed to fully supporting the emergency responders and other agencies, meeting the needs of the community and protecting the environment," said CSX.
The derailment is the latest in a series of fiery crashes of trains carrying crude oil in the U.S. and Canada. A 2013 accident in Quebec destroyed much of the town of Lac Megantic and killed nearly 50 people.
First published April 30 2014, 12:34 PM
Lisa Riordan Seville
Lisa Riordan Seville is a reporter and off-air producer for the NBC News Investigations Unit. Her stories on heath, criminal justice and immigration have been supported by The California Endowment Health Journalism Fellowships, the Investigative Fund for the Nation and the Open Society Foundation. She is from Northern California.
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