Smoke Plume Engulfs Virginia Skies After Oil Fire, Train Derailment

By Michael Kuhne, AccuWeather.com Staff Writer
May 01, 2014; 6:27 PM
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Dark clouds of thick, black smoke belted with flames soared into the sky above downtown Lynchburg, Va., Wednesday afternoon as authorities evacuated several buildings in the area, The Associated Press reported.

"Lynchburg officials are reporting that between 12 and 14 CSX tanker cars carrying crude oil were involved in the train derailment in downtown Lynchburg causing extensive flames and dense black smoke," city officials reported.

The train was traveling from Chicago to Virginia when the derailment occurred, CSX said in a news release. Three rail cars were on fire but have since been extinguished.

At around 2 p.m. when the incident occurred, dense fog hovered throughout the area, which reduced visibility to under a mile, AccuWeather.com Meteorologist Carl Erickson said.

There have been no injuries reported at this time, according to the city's news release.

Residents were allowed to return to their homes in the evacuated area of Commerce and Jefferson streets, the city said.

The fire was reported along the James River. No contamination of drinking water due to the oil spill has been reported.

Storms came into the region during the evening hours.

"The heavy rainfall is over with. However, there can still be spotty showers and a thunderstorm today, with any additional rain adding to flooding problems," said AccuWeather.com Meteorologist Dan Depodwin.

According to Fox 5 in Washington, D.C., another train derailment occurred in the area overnight. This one was carrying coal and went off track around 3 a.m. EDT in Bowie, Md.

No injuries have been reported from the second derailment. The cause is still under investigation.

Firefighters and rescue workers work along the tracks where several CSX tanker cars carrying crude oil derailed and caught fire along the James River near downtown in Lynchburg, Va., Wednesday, April 30, 2014. Nearby buildings were evacuated for a time, but officials said there were no injuries and the city on its website and Twitter said firefighters on the scene made the decision to let the fire burn out. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

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