One person died after an overturned gas tanker carrying flammable liquids exploded on a highway in Frederick, Maryland on 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 truck tanker crashed into a tree and exploded on US Route 15 shortly before 12 pm ET in the western Maryland city, about 50 miles west of Baltimore, according to Ron Snyder, public information officer for Maryland State Police (MDSP).
After several hours, the fire was put out and the hazardous materials, which were in the line of gasoline and diesel fuel, were contained, Frederick County Fire and Rescue Chief Tom Coe said during a news conference Saturday afternoon. The hazardous materials did not reach the nearby Carroll Creek, which flows 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 News84Media by phone. There were no other injuries or fatalities reported in connection with the crash or the fire, Coe said.
The explosion took place a month after a freight train carrying hazardous chemicals derailed in East Palestine, Ohio, igniting a dayslong inferno, spewing poisonous fumes into the air and killing thousands of fish.
During the Saturday news conference, Frederick Mayor Michael O’Connor acknowledged that many residents were concerned about the circumstances of the crash in light of the Ohio toxic train wreck, which happened on February 3.
The mayor said none of the tanker’s hazardous materials entered the city’s sewer system, but officials will continue working with state investigators to make sure there are no lasting impacts.
“We will continue to monitor the environmental effects of this incident in the coming days and weeks ahead,” O’Connor said.
Southbound lanes of the highway reopened around 2:30 pm ET Saturday, while northbound lanes will remain closed for several hours as authorities investigate the crash, authorities said.
Six homes and five vehicles were damaged from the fire, the state police said in a news release.
The fire spread to a nearby home that is now uninhabitable, Coe said. Two adjoining homes were also slightly damaged by the heat of the fire, along with three cars, the chief added.
“I’m just grateful that this looks like a fairly routine kind of accident that could occur on any highway anywhere in America and this is not anything more challenging than that,” the mayor said. Earlier, O’Connor in a Facebook post urged residents to avoid the area.
Maryland Gov. Wes Moore told News84Media he was in contact with Frederick officials and the agencies responding to the scene.
“My heart goes out to those affected by this tragedy in Frederick,” Moore said. “…We are continuing to monitor the situation closely.”
The state’s Fire Marshal and Department of the Environment were notified and are responding to the crash, MDSP said.
“We are providing all available resources to assist with this incident. We will continue to support DFRS as they lead incident control and clean up. I implore all residents to avoid the area to allow DFRS to do their jobs and prevent any fire from spreading,” the mayor said in the Facebook post.