West Virginia in the United States has declared a state of emergency after a train derailed on Monday afternoon causing multiple explosions and a massive fire.

The derailment took place at around 1:20 pm local time as the 109-car train carrying oil was travelling from North Dakota to Yorktown. Officials said as many as 15 train cars were involved in the accident.

The CSX-owned train is also leaking crude oil into the nearby Kanawha River according to officials.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin declared a state of emergency at around 6pm EST and the fire was still burning while over 1000 people had been evacuated hours after the declaration, the Los Angeles Times reported citing Lawrence Messina, the state's public safety spokesman.

The CSX Corp train explosion set a number of cars ablaze, destroyed a house and forced the evacuation of two towns, Reuters reported. Billowing flames and smoke could still be seen as of 9:30pm local time. Clean-up is expected to take several days, Joe Crist, Fayette County fire coordinator, told Reuters.

The news agency also cited West Virginia State Police Sergeant Greg Duckworth as saying that about nine or 10 of the cars had exploded every half hours. The heat from one car would typically heat up the gas in the nearest car causing it to ignite – and further causing a chain reaction of explosions.

"It's a real mess down here," Duckworth said.