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Driver escapes fiery fuel truck explosion on Florida's Turnpike

A tanker carrying 8,500 gallons of fuel crashed and erupted into flames in west Boynton Beach, Florida.
Driver escapes fiery fuel truck explosion on Florida's Turnpike
Posted at 2:23 PM, Dec 08, 2023

A fuel tanker truck crashed, exploded and erupted in flames on Florida's Turnpike 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 semitruck was carrying about 1,000 gallons of diesel fuel and 7,500 gallons of gasoline.

Aerial video from Scripps News West Palm Beach 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.

All lanes of the highway were shut down for nearly two hours on Friday morning. They reopened by Friday afternoon.

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. 

Fire Rescue had 18 vehicles and dozens of firefighters battling the blaze, as images showed them on the highway spraying down the tanker with a combination of water and foam.

"This flame is evil. It is just as mean as they get," Chopper 5 reporter Johann Hoffend said.

Chopper 5 video showed the fire was completely put out just before 7:30 a.m., with the wreckage covered in white foam.

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.

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