Investigation, cleanup underway after train derails in Lynchburg - FOX Carolina 21

Investigation, cleanup underway after train derails in Lynchburg

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Right now, an investigation is underway into what caused a train to derail near downtown Lynchburg. City officials don't believe speed was a factor in the crash at this point but little else is known.

The CSX train was heading from Chicago to Virginia and should have been passing through Richmond before it derailed Wednesday afternoon.

Flames and smoke billowed around 2:30p.m. after sixteen cars derailed. Each car was carrying 30,000 gallons of crude oil.

Three cars fell into the James River, leaking approximately 50,000 gallons of crude into the water. As of Wednesday night, heavy equipment was just arriving to get the tankers out of the river.

The fire caused several businesses and apartment buildings to be evacuated.

Won Novalis works behind the train tracks.

"Suddenly we heard this loud banging sound," he said. "I didn't think it was an explosion of any kind until I saw the smoke and saw people out my window with their cameras up."

Dozens of spectators shot videos showing fire and smoke rising high above the Lynchburg skyline - the images went viral in minutes.

Rescue workers rushed to the scene but even with the fire extinguished, the work is far from over.

"There's full mobilization at this point and it's a cleanup effort," said Lynchburg City Manager Kimball Payne. "Our fire department put up some booms down river to try and capture some of the oil there are a lot of environmental groups that are arriving here."

Meanwhile, CSX has set up a community outreach center and also plans to have representatives go door-to-door downtown Thursday and Friday.

If all goes well, we're told the cleanup should be complete by the close of business Thursday.

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