Fiery Tanker Crash Snarls I-270 Traffic

Overturned tanker's contents ignite

By Jim Iovino
|  Thursday, Jan 14, 2010  |  Updated 6:12 PM EDT
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Truck fire shuts down I-270 and Montrose Road.

Truck fire shuts down I-270 and Montrose Road.

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Witness Talks About Tanker Fire

Get the latest on the tanker fire over Interstate 270.
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Flames shot high in the air as a tanker fire shut down Interstate 270 in Rockville for several hours Thursday morning, causing tremendous traffic backups.

The tanker, which was hauling gasoline, overturned at about 4:45 a.m. on Montrose Road at the point at which it goes over I-270.   The tanker was not directly over I-270, however.

"I was asleep and all of a sudden there was this huge bang that woke me up, and the entire house shook," one neighbor said. "The bed shook, the house shook. It was huge. Then there were a bunch of smaller explosions after that. But the main one really was huge.

"I actually thought it was a thunderstorm, and I wondered how there could be a thunderstorm at this time of the year," he said.

Crews sprayed the fire with chemicals and used a special vehicle from Dulles International Airport to help knock down the flames.   The fire was extinguished at about 6:30 a.m. and all lanes of I-270 reopened at that time.   However, officials later shut down the northbound lanes of I-270 and forced drivers off at Old Georgetown Road.

Montrose Road reopened Thursday evening after officials analyzed the structural integrity of the road and overpass and crews milled the affected section of the roadway. Drivers can expect more closures between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Friday as crews repave the roadway.

Officials said no injuries were reported.  There was no immediate word on what caused the crash. 

The driver of the tanker truck was being interviewed by Montgomery County Police.

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