Black Day in Mount Carbon

Latest fiery crude oil derailment finds Montgomery, West Virginia, firefighters up to the challenge

Only minutes before a fiery derailment poured burning hydrocarbon into the Kanawha River, Montgomery (WV) Fire Department Deputy Chief Benny Filiaggi took note of the 109-tank car train traveling through the snowy town in route to a refinery in Yorktown, VA.

“Ordinarily, I would have been off for the President’s Day holiday,” Filiaggi said. “But we had a bad snowstorm going so I was working at the fire station, just in case something happened.”

As luck would have it, half a dozen volunteers decided to kill time at the station that miserable day. Montgomery, with a population of more than 1,600, is home to two colleges that keep the combination fire department stocked with young, aggressive firefighters, Filiaggi said.

Suddenly, the volunteers burst into the dayroom to find Filiaggi. First reports of the derailment were coming in by radio. Filiaggi quickly realized it was the same train he had seen earlier.

“I thought to myself, ‘Oh, my God – it’s crude.”

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