By John Raby and Jonathan Mattise
MOUNT CARBON, W.Va. — Oil cars were still burning more than a day after a train carrying 3 million gallons of North Dakota crude derailed in a West Virginia snowstorm, shooting fireballs into the sky.
Hundreds of families were evacuated after losing their drinking water and electricity when 19 tank cars slammed into each other and caught fire, leaking oil into a Kanawha River tributary and burning a nearby house down to its foundation.
“There’s nothing there,” said Democratic U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, who toured the scene. “All you can see is a couple of blocks sticking out of the ground. There’s some pickup trucks out front completely burned to the ground.”
One person — the homeowner — was treated for smoke inhalation, but no other injuries were reported, according to the train company, CSX. The two-person crew, an engineer and conductor, managed to decouple the train’s engines from the wreck behind it and walk away unharmed.
The train derailed near unincorporated Mount Carbon just after passing through Montgomery, a town of 1,946, on a stretch where the rails wind past businesses and homes crowded between the water and the steep, tree-covered hills.
Fire crews had little choice Tuesday but to let the tanks burn.