Tanker Fire Closes I-95

Adding to already horrible holiday and commuter traffic, the driver of a tanker truck somehow managed to get his vehicle on fire, closing southbound I-95 for what appears to be much of today.

Tanker Fire Closes I-95 (AP)

Photo Tanker Truck on fire I-95 near Maryland Route 212 Interstate 95 near the Beltway in College Park is shut this morning because of a gasoline tanker truck explosion that set off a massive fire on the highway, forcing hundreds of holiday motorists to evacuate their cars and tying up traffic for miles on the Interstate and surrounding roads.

The truck was carrying 8700 gallons of gasoline southbound on I-95 near Maryland Route 212, authorities said, when a fire broke out in the driver’s cab. He pulled over to the side of the highway and then watched the vehicle explode in a ball of fire. Capt. Mark Brady, of the Prince George’s County Fire and Emergency Medical Services department, said the fire spread onto the median and into the woods as the blazing liquid spread. Speaking on Channel 4, he said the fire was contained but could take hours to burn off. He said that hundreds of drivers evacuated their cars after the explosion and that there are no reports of injuries.

I-95 was closed in both directions for about 90 minutes. At about 6:30, traffic began moving in the northbound lanes but the southbound lane remained shut.

Maryland highway officials urged motorists to avoid the area “at all costs,” suggesting that drivers southbound on 95 exit at one of the east-west roads intersecting the Interstate. Traffic was being forced off 95 at Route 198.

Not good. Overturned big rigs seems to be a regular occurence around here for reasons I fail to understand. Fuel trucks in balls of flame, however, are rare.

Update: Jeff Quinton has a second-hand account of the traffic jam.

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James Joyner
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  1. I’m glad I went to work this morning heading northbound on 95 north of the accident scene (I work around BWI, and hit 95 at the 32 exit).

    Still – a nightmare, and one with a great disaster potential at that.

  2. Jeff says:

    My fiancee was 20 cars behind the tanker on her way to see me for Thanksgiving. She didn’t have a camera with her but I’m going to be blogging about what she told me happened shortly.

  3. Josh Cohen says:

    A beer truck once overturned on a heavily-used-by-tourists ramp from I-4 to 528 in Orlando. The flames were so hot they melted the asphalt of the ramp. As a traffic reporter, I’ve seen a lot of freaky overturns — a tractor-trailer carrying cows (many of them had to be put down), a truck carrying several million bees, and so on.

  4. Jeff says:

    Josh, was that the A-B plant in Tampa? The one that Yuengling uses now?

  5. Jeff says:

    Nevermind, it was Orlando not Tampa.