Gasoline tanker explodes on I-75 north of Detroit

July 15, 2009 9:06:58 PM PDT
Flames shot hundreds of feet into the air after a gasoline tanker exploded Wednesday night underneath a highway overpass near Detroit, collapsing part of the overpass onto the interstate below. Spilled fuel burned on the road as fire crews doused it with water. One minor injury was reported, Michigan State Police Lt. Shannon Sims said. The tanker driver was alive and accounted for, but Sims would not say whether that was the injured person.

The tanker was headed northbound on Interstate 75, the area's major north-south freeway, when it exploded beneath the 9 Mile Road overpass about 8 p.m., Sims said. The fire about 10 miles north of downtown Detroit was extinguished shortly before 11 p.m., he said.

"We don't know exactly what caused the explosion, but it did explode," he said.

Sims said authorities did not know whether other vehicles were involved, but television images showed a wrecked, burned tractor-trailer near the destroyed tanker. Flames and black, billowing plumes of smoke reached 150 to 200 feet into the air.

Police ordered dozens of onlookers gathered along the top of embankments along the crash site to move back to avoid exposure to toxic smoke. Some watched from a nearby pedestrian overpass.

Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said about 100 law enforcement personnel were on the scene, along with helicopters and the sheriff department's mobile command center.

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