PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — A fuel tanker truck crashed, exploded and erupted in flames on Florida's Turnpike west of Boynton Beach on Friday morning, shutting down all lanes of the highway and causing major traffic backups for miles.
Palm Beach County Fire Rescue said the fiery wreck happened on the Hypoluxo Road overpass, just north of Boynton Beach Boulevard, shortly before 6 a.m.
The tanker was the only vehicle involved in the crash, and the driver escaped with no injuries.
"The impact of the crash split the tanker open and the fuel was actively burning, sending a large plume of black smoke that could be seen from far away," Palm Beach County Fire Rescue said in a written news release.
Fire officials said the semi-truck was carrying about 1,000 gallons of diesel fuel and 7,500 gallons of gasoline.
Aerial video from WPTV Chopper 5 showed the truck engulfed in flames in the northbound lanes and fuel leaking from the vehicle, trailing down both sides of the Turnpike.
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All lanes of the highway were shut down for close to two hours on Friday morning. They reopened by Friday afternoon.
Firefighters from Palm Beach County Fire Rescue were on the highway, spraying down the tanker with a combination of water and foam, according to WPTV Chopper 5 reporter Johann Hoffend.
"This flame is evil. It is just as mean as they get," Hoffend said in a live report.
Chopper 5 video showed the fire was completely put out just before 7:30 a.m., with the wreckage covered in white foam.
Palm Beach County Fire Rescue's Special Operations Team, which specializes in hazmat emergencies and technical rescues, took command of the scene and led the firefight, building a dam to contain the fuel and keep the flames from spreading further.
Eighteen vehicles and dozens of firefighters battled the blaze.
Tanker fire 🔥 photos. Check other platforms for full report. pic.twitter.com/svT3JoZGX0— PBC Fire Rescue (@PBCFR) December 8, 2023
Florida's Department of Environmental Protection and Department of Transportation will be at the scene assessing the damage.
Drivers are being told to expect delays on the Turnpike throughout the day between Southern Boulevard in West Palm Beach and Boynton Beach Boulevard west of Boynton Beach.
Several residents who live in the Isola Bella community in the area of U.S. Highway 441 and Hypoluxo Road said on the WPTV Facebook page they heard a loud explosion just before 6 a.m.