A busy stretch of Interstate 25 in Denver was severely damaged after a tanker truck caught fire and exploded Wednesday. The driver of the truck suffered injuries, but was pulled from the truck by passing motorists and workers.
A witness told KCNC-TV he saw the semi lose control and hit a barrier just before the fire started.
“When he came to a stop I could see fuel, on the road northbound,” said Dave Fretz, a witness to the incident. “It was smoking and there was some flames happening in the back part of it. I knew this guy was in a truck and I didn’t see him come out of the truck.”
Fretz told the station while he went to check on the driver’s side of the semi, two Colorado Department of Transportation workers had pulled the driver from the passenger’s side and were helping him away from the fire.
Fretz said the driver was suffering from head and arm injuries, but the official condition of the driver was unavailable.
All 10 lanes of the highway, five in each direction, were shut down for several hours for crews to extinguish the blaze, forcing over 200,000 daily commuters to be diverted around the scene. By the Wednesday evening commute, three lanes were open on the southbound side of Interstate 25, but the northbound lanes remained closed into Thursday morning.
An accident resulted in large fuel fire on northbound Interstate 25 between Orchard Road and Bellevue Ave. Wednesday, May 31, 2017. Both directions of I-25 were shut down while fire fighters battled the blaze. (Steve Nehf/The Denver Post via AP)
Update: Georgia transportation officials said Friday that it will take "at least several months" to rebuild Interstate 85 after a massive fire caused a portion of the major thoroughfare to collapse in northeast Atlanta.
Gov. Nathan Deal declared a State of Emergency for Fulton County after the fire that started Thursday during afternoon rush hour.
Both the northbound and southbound bridges of I-85 south of Georgia State Route 400 will need to be replaced, Georgia's Department of Transportation Commissioner Russell McMurry said.
"At this time, we do not have an anticipated duration for the repairs as we have not been able to fully access the site due to hot spots, but we do know that it is expected to be a time consuming event," GDOT said on its Facebook page Friday.
The massive blaze that was burning underneath I-85 NB near Piedmont Road shut down several roads in northeast Atlanta. Due to continued impaired travel, DeKalb County Schools has canceled class for Friday, March 31.
Inspectors with Georgia's Department of Transportation arrived at the fire and collapse site to assess the damage Friday morning.
MARTA added extra service lines Friday to deal with the increase in riders expected during the morning and afternoon commutes.
Original post: A large fire has caused an overpass on Interstate 85 in Atlanta to collapse.
The massive blaze burned underneath a section of I-85 NB near Piedmont Road and shut down several roads in northeast Atlanta.
I-85 is a major interstate in the southeast region.
Witnesses say troopers were telling cars to turn around on the bridge because they were concerned about its integrity. Minutes later, the bridge collapsed.
The fire department says the fire is under control and no firefighters were injured. The governor's office said no one has been injured.
Black smoke could been seen for miles. Traffic is at a standstill on the interstate.
Spools of copper and PVC has been suspected as items under the road that caught fire and led to the collapse
Governor Nathan Deal briefly spoke to reporters about the interstate collapse, mentioning that he heard the flames came from “PVC products that caught fire.”
“The state is mobilizing all available resources to ensure public safety and minimize disruption of traffic as we continue emergency response efforts," Deal said in a news release after declaring a a state of emergency for Fulton County following the collapse. “The Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) is coordinating response efforts with the Georgia Department of Public Safety (DPS), the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency and other state and local officials. As this safety investigation and bridge assessment continues, we encourage the public to avoid the affected area, remain patient and allow first responders to perform their jobs.”
Video and images from the scene:
The Cox Media Group National Content Desk contributed to this report.
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