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Tanker Explosion Closes I-75 for 4 Days

A tanker explosion shook nearby houses and scorched over 100 feet of I-75 recently, causing the freeway to close for the weekend as construction workers scrambled to make repairs. The fatal accident was the fourth time this year that a tanker-truck fire has closed a highway.

At 3:20 a.m. on Thursday, August 20, 2015, residents of Lincoln Park were awakened by the sound of an explosion and the sight of fire and smoke. Hailey Terry told CBS Detroit:

“We were all laying in bed, sound asleep, and then next thing we know we just heard a loud boom and the house started shaking. So, we just got up and ran outside and there were just flames everywhere and smoke and we called 911 right away.”

A tanker truck carrying 8,000 gallons of gasoline had rolled over the median onto north-bound I-75 near the Detroit-Lincoln Park border and exploded.

It took the Lincoln Park Fire Department nearly two hours to bring the flames under control. It eventually sought help from Dearborn, and Southgate, and requested foam trucks from Marathon Oil and Detroit Metro Airport. When the flames died down, gasoline and foam fire retardant had washed into the I-75 sewer system and a HAZMAT team had to be called in to protect local residents’ water supply.

The driver, a 53-year-old Detroit resident, was rushed to the hospital with burns on 90 percent of his body. He died as a result of his injuries the next day.

Investigators have yet to announce the cause of the crash. Michigan State Police Lt. Mike Shaw told CBS Detroit:

“Right now we don’t know what exactly occurred. . . . Naturally, a lot of people have some speculations about speed or whatever, things like that, but what we’ll do is we’ll go in there and we want to make sure. We’re not rushing right away.”

What is clear is that this accident is proving expensive. Diane Cross, a spokesperson with the Michigan Department of Transportation, told the Free Press that the roadway had been “incinerated.” Florence Concrete, a Shelby Township-based company, is being paid $200,000 to replace the 100-foot stretch of damaged concrete. I-75 northbound remained closed until Monday morning to give the company time to make emergency repairs.

This is the fourth tanker explosion in the Detroit area this year. High-impact crashes, which close more than one lane, have been on the rise since 2014. Many of those involve tanker trucks carrying volatile cargo. When these accidents happen they can cause millions of dollars in property damage and remediation expenses. They often also cause severe injuries and loss of life, as happened here.

Tanker truck accidents can be some of the most severe crashes on the road. The attorneys at Christensen Law in Southfield, Michigan, represent the victims of trucking accidents and can help get all of your expenses covered. If you or someone you know was injured in a tanker truck accident, contact Christensen Law today for a free consultation.