MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) – A tanker truck carrying nearly 8,000 gallons of fuel crashed and burst into flames overnight, July 31, 2014. It happened on the Mobile Bay Causeway on the entrance ramp to east bound Interstate 10.
Police said the truck failed negotiate a turn onto the ramp and flipped on its side. A massive fire engulfed the truck, but the driver was able to escape with just minor injuries.
Passersby shot video of the incredible scene as thousands of gallons of diesel and gasoline burned on the Causeway and surrounding waters. Police say the McPherson Oil Products truck had just filled its load in Saraland when the driver, Carlos Lyles of Mobile, rolled the truck on the east bound entrance ramp to I-10.
“There was about 7,700 gallons of fuel in the tank and the majority of it was consumed by the fire,” said Operations Engineer for ALDOT Lee Reach.
The Spanish Fort Fire Department responded and tried to cool the fire down as it burned itself out.
Daylight revealed the extent of the damage. Nothing was left but a charred metal frame of the truck and scorched concrete retaining walls. ALDOT officials said the bridge deck will have to be inspected to look for heat damage.
“The aggregate that’s in the bridge will heat up, expand and cause the concrete to deteriorate and separate,” Reach explained.
Reach went on to say that some of that damage may not be evident until the concrete completely cools which could be several days. The residual effects could cause more damage.
Another concern is the environmental impact. With that much fuel spilling onto the bridge and into the water, efforts were underway to contain whatever’s left.
“The environmental crews are out putting boom out to hold the spilled diesel in place because it floats on top of the water, to hold it in place and some of it will dilute and not affect anything,” Reach said. “That’s part of the process. Some of it will evaporate.”
The ramp will remain closed until ALDOT finishes their inspection and makes any needed repairs. In the meantime, there will be a lot of activity in the area that motorists should be aware of.
“Even though it’s not affecting the through lanes of traffic, it’s still going to be a lot of traffic in and out so they need to be careful, be safe, be mindful of what’s going on,” Reach emphasized.
Police said the driver, Carlos Lyles escaped the accident without serious injury. Spanish Fort Police Chief, David Edgar said he was able to kick the front windshield out and make his escape with minor cuts, bruises and burns. Police are continuing their investigation into what may have caused Lyles to lose control to begin with.