Frederick, Maryland: 1 dead after overturned gas tanker explodes on highway


One person died after an overturned gas tanker carrying flammable liquids exploded on a freeway in Frederick, Maryland Saturday, causing damage to nearby homes and vehicles, as city officials advised residents to avoid the area.

Flames and smoke billowed into the air after the tanker truck crashed into a tree and exploded on US Route 15 just before 12 p.m. ET in the western Maryland city, about 50 miles west of Baltimore, according to Ron Snyder, Public Information officers for Maryland State Police (MDSP).

After several hours, the fire was extinguished and the hazardous materials that were in the gasoline and diesel line were contained, Frederick County Fire and Rescue Chief Tom Coe said during a news conference Saturday afternoon. The hazardous materials did not reach nearby Carroll Creek, which empties into the Monocacy River in Frederick County, Coe added.

Officials were working with the truck’s owner to identify the liquids inside the tanker, Coe said.

The driver of the truck, whose identity has not yet been released, died in the crash, Snyder confirmed to CNN by phone. No other injuries or deaths related to the crash or the fire were reported, Coe said.

The blast came a month after a freight train carrying hazardous chemicals derailed in East Palestine, Ohio, igniting a days-long inferno, spewing toxic fumes into the air and killing thousands of fish.

During Saturday’s news conference, Frederick Mayor Michael O’Connor acknowledged that many residents were concerned about the circumstances of the crash in light of the Feb. 3 Ohio poison train accident.

The mayor said none of the tanker’s hazardous materials entered the city’s sewage system, but officials will continue to work with state investigators to ensure there are no lasting effects.

“We will continue to monitor the environmental impact of this incident over the coming days and weeks,” O’Connor said.

The southbound lanes of the freeway reopened around 2:30 p.m. ET Saturday, while the northbound lanes will remain closed for several hours while authorities investigate the accident, authorities said.

Six homes and five vehicles were damaged by the fire, state police said in a press release.

The fire spread to a nearby house, which is now uninhabitable, Coe said. Two adjacent homes also sustained minor damage from the heat of the fire, along with three cars, the chief added.

“I’m just grateful that this looks like a fairly routine accident that could happen on any freeway anywhere in America, and this is no bigger challenge than that,” the mayor said. Earlier, in a Facebook post, O’Connor urged residents to avoid the area.

Maryland Gov. Wes Moore told CNN he is in touch with Frederick officials and the authorities who responded to the scene.

“My heart goes out to those affected by this tragedy in Frederick,” Moore said. “…We continue to monitor the situation closely.”

The state’s fire marshal and environment department have been notified and are responding to the crash, MDSP said.

“We are providing all available resources to assist with this incident. We will continue to assist DFRS with incident control and remediation. I am imploring all residents to avoid the area so DFRS can do its job and prevent a fire from spreading,” the mayor said in the Facebook post.

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