Massive two-tanker crash in Arizona kills driver, cripples road and traffic

Massive two-tanker crash in Arizona kills driver, cripples road and trafficOn Wednesday, November 9, two tanker trucks traveling along Interstate 10 allegedly collided with one another, bursting into flames on the high-traffic freeway just outside of Phoenix, The Associated Press reports.

According to the news source, the accident killed the driver of one of the trucks, and caused massive traffic jams in either direction that lasted for hours and went on for miles.

The accident occurred in the city of Chandler, where city and state police were forced to order a number of hotels and businesses located adjacent to the highway on fears that the oil-based fire could spread, according to Department of Public Safety spokesman Bart Graves.

Police officials evacuated people inside hotels, homes and businesses that were located within one mile of the eastbound lanes of the highway, while members from the Phoenix Fire Department urged homeowners on the west side of the freeway to remain in their residences.

ABC affiliate News 14 stated that shortly after the accident occurred, parents of children at Horizon Learning Center were called to pick up their kids, as the entire area was being evacuated. The school is located very close to the site of the crash, near the Loop 202 interchange.

“We heard the booms about three or four times,” said Ruby Villalobos, mother of two children attending the school. “It felt like on a train, like when you’re moving and it was shaking,” added Anissa Villalobos, a third grader at Horizon Learning Center.

Employees at the school told the news source they could see thick black smoke pluming up from the highway nearby. Shortly after, wind brought the dangerous smoke directly on top of the school, prompting law officer’s to order the evacuation.

“The kindergartners were kind of mellow cause the teachers hadn’t told them what was going on because they didn’t want them panicking, but the 3, 4, 5, and 6 kids were kind of nervous,” said Courtney Smith, a student at Horizon.

As parents slowly arrived, school administrators kept students inside and released them one at a time, taking a total of two hours.

The crash occurred after a milk-tanker allegedly plowed into another tanker truck that was carrying 7,700 gallons of diesel gas, which immediately caught fire. The driver of the milk-tanker was killed as the intense flamed quickly consumed the driver’s cab, the AP stated.

Although badly shaken up, the driver of the tanker truck was uninjured and did not need to receive any medical treatment.

Officials stated the crash occurred at about 7:45 a.m., causing crippling traffic backups that extended into the suburbs of Phoenix. Police closed the freeway in both directions from the intersection with U.S. 60 to Loop 202, both of which are major arteries for morning commuters.

The Arizona Republic reports that now, investigators from the DPS have begun their investigation and are gathering evidence, assessing records from the truck drivers and interviewing witnesses.

Reports show that fire department officials had significant problems in putting the fire out, as there were a lack of fire hydrants near the crash site. Firefighters were forced to bring in two water tankers to help calm the blaze. The state Department of Environmental Quality was also summoned to assess the smoke.

Westbound lanes were closed until 5 a.m. on Thursday, November 10, after drivers dealt with reportedly awful driving conditions.

“The freeway was just like a parking lot,” said Nancy Eslager, who was driving from Chandler to Ahwatukee when the crash occurred. “We could see smoke the entire time we were driving. It was just terrible.”