Nine affected counties including the state’s capital.
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The federal government said Friday it will open an investigation into a West Virginia chemical spill that shut down much of the state’s capital and put 300,000 residents at risk.

Schools and restaurants closed, grocery stores sold out of bottled water, and state legislators who had just started their session canceled the day’s business after a chemical spill in the Elk River in Charleston, even as the extent of the danger remained unclear.

The federal government joined the state early Friday in declaring a disaster and announced an investigation into the spill, while the West Virginia National Guard planned to distribute bottled drinking water to emergency services agencies in the nine affected counties.