UPDATE: Train Derails, Catches Fire in Lynchburg

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A train derailment in Lynchburg sent multiple trains tumbling into the James River on Wednesday, causing a massive fire and evacuation of the downtown area.

Officials say there were no injuries and that firefighters decided to let the fire burn itself out.

Heavy equipment to get the cars out of the river are expected to arrive before midnight. The derailment also caused damage to the tracks.

WDBJ7 reports about 50,000 gallons of crude oil are gone, but it's not clear at this time how much of it burned and how much of it made its way to the river.

Contractors have places booms downstream to try to keep the oil from spreading to areas like Scottsville, which is about 60 miles downstream.

"I would imagine with the high water levels we shouldn't have too much of a problem here," said Scottsville resident Ryan Bruce.

Bruce owns The Smokehouse Grille in downtown Scottsville. He says he doesn't expect any of the impacts of the spill to make their way to his town.

"No concerns for my personally. I spend a lot of time on the river myself, and when it flows that much, it really doesn't make it that far down here from Lynchburg. Usually we're pretty safe from things like that," he said.

Still, he says any time there is an issue with any part of the river, the town watches closely.

"Well the river is a big part of our community. It really changes our town. It's getting ready to be summertime and after such a rainy spring last year, they're really hoping to have a quality season. It's really important to our economy and for all of southern Albemarle. The river's really the backbone of our community," said Bruce.

The James River Association is also monitoring the situation. Pat Calvert, Upper James Riverkeeper, spent the day at the scene.

"We are obviously very concerned about the impacts of this incident on the James River and will work to confirm that they are fully addressed and mitigated," Calvert said in a statement. "Taken with the other toxic spills that occurred in the region over the past months, this is also a time to assess the risks to the James River and see that all necessary actions are taken to ensure that such a valuable natural resource is protected."

The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality says the booms appear to have contained the spill, but they will be overseeing the oil cleanup and assessing any damage.

The NTSB and the Federal Railroad Administration are also sending investigators to Lynchburg to see what made the train go off the tracks.


April 30, 2014

Authorities are evacuating numerous buildings around a CSX train derailment and fire along the James River in downtown Lynchburg, Va.

The city of Lynchburg on its website posted that the fire department was on the scene Wednesday afternoon and urged drivers and pedestrians to avoid the area.

No injuries were immediately reported.

Photos and video show several black tanker-like train cars derailed and extensive flames and smoke.

The City of Lynchburg tweeted the following:

Officials say the fire department has assessed the situation, and have decided to let the fire burn out.

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