Witness: The James River 'Sounded Like a Deep Fryer' - WSET.com - ABC13

Witness: The James River 'Sounded Like a Deep Fryer'

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Cover photo: ABC 13 viewer @percymoo via Twitter

Lynchburg, VA – Three 30,000 gallon cars sit smoldering in the James River following a train derailment Wednesday that forced many in downtown Lynchburg to evacuate.

Witnesses say the train derailed when the earth below gave way, tossing part of the train into the James River and catching fire.

It was a scary and terrifying scene for those in downtown Lynchburg and Amherst County near the river when the train derailed. Witnesses describe hearing the cars ram into one another, followed by an enormous “boom”.

Immediately following the apparent explosion, eyewitnesses grabbed their cell phones and cameras and began sharing their pictures and videos with ABC 13.

Flames shot up some 80-100 feet in the air, witnesses say. At one point, the actual river was on fire as black smoke filled the sky.

“We came out and looked down river. At that point in time, the fire, you could see just a little black smoke and just went ‘woof’. I mean it was massive. The flames rolled down the river on the Lynchburg side 300 to 400 yards and the flames shooting up were probably as high as the Bank of the James. It’s hard to say. It was unbelievable,” said eyewitness Mason Basten of River Road Jet Boats.

Crude oil is leaking into the James River, though the amount is uncertain. Lynchburg City says the areas drinking water will not be affected by the derailment, though the Richmond area is taking precautions.

The cause of the derailment has not been determined yet.
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