A portion of Interstate 95 in northeast Philadelphia was closed in both directions Sunday after a tanker truck believed to be carrying gasoline caught fire, causing part of the highway to collapse, officials said.
A tanker driver was on a stretch of Route I-95 North when an accident or other incident caused a fire under the highway lanes, which run overhead, said Brad Rudolph, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.
« That structure collapsed quickly in the heat of the fire being as big as it was, » he said. « And then the southbound structure was also closed because it was also affected by the fire. »
Mr. Rudolph said officials are evaluating what options they had to restore traffic on the busy highway, which carries about 160,000 vehicles a day.
« I don’t know if it’s a week or two weeks, » she said, adding that her department’s first option was « to get it open as quickly as possible if we can do it. »
There was no immediate news about the driver. Rudolph told the Pennsylvania State Police they were conducting an investigation into possible deaths or injuries from the fire.
Mr Rudolph said the cause of the fire was still being investigated, but that so far nothing has suggested it was intentional. He said the fire was on the ramp from Route I-95 North to Cottman Avenue, which juts out and then passes under the highway.
« It looks like it was an automobile accident, » Mr. Rudolph said. « That ramp can be tricky if you’re going at high speeds. »
Derek Bowmer, a battalion chief of the Philadelphia Fire Department, told a news conference Sunday morning that the subsequent manhole explosions were the result of « runoff from perhaps some fuel or gas lines that may have been compromised by the ‘accident ».
Dominick Mireles, director of Philadelphia’s Office of Emergency Management, told the news conference that the agency was concerned about possible « environmental impacts » the fire and collapse could have on the Delaware River, which runs parallel to the damaged section. of the highway.
THE Philadelphia Department of Waterwhich draws on the Delaware for part of its supply, said there was « no impact on water quality » Sunday afternoon.
« Philadelphia Water Department personnel are continuing to monitor the situation and are collaborating with other agencies in responding to the emergency, » he said.
The area where the fire occurred includes auto shops, construction companies, and Four Seasons Total Landscaping, the family-owned business where Rudolph W. Giuliani, then former President Donald Trump’s personal attorney, held a press conference in 2020 when major news organizations began calling for President Biden to be elected.
All lanes of Route I-95 between the Woodhaven and Aramingo exits, and some nearby streets, were closed Sunday afternoon, the city of Philadelphia said. a press release.
The city advised commuters to plan alternate routes for their weekday commute and encouraged them to use public transportation. State and local agencies were creating detours, including on Pennsylvania Route 63, Interstate 676 and US Route 1, the city said.
Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro said had been informed about fire. Federal Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg said on Twitter that he had offered the governor federal assistance « to help with recovery and rebuilding. »
In April, a portion of Interstate 95 in Connecticut was closed after a fuel tanker crashed into a major bridge. The blast killed one person and sent home heating oil into the River Thames, officials said.
In 2017, a portion of Interstate 85 in Atlanta collapsed in a fire. The contractor who replaced the damaged roadway, CW MatthewsHe said it took 44 days of uninterrupted work to complete the repairs.