Tanker truck fire shuts down Fla. Turnpike and parts of SR-874

SOUTHWEST MIAMI-DADE, FLA. (WSVN) - An overturned tanker truck carrying thousands of gallons of fuel caught fire, Tuesday, where SR-874 merges with the Florida Turnpike, in Southwest Miami-Dade.

According to Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Jose Sanchez, the tanker truck was a commercial fuel carrier that experienced a weight shift, which caused the driver to lose control of the half-full fuel tanker. Then, the truck overturned and ignited.

As of 4 p.m., traffic along the highway in the northbound lanes are moving along at normal speed. However, traffic southbound, where the truck toppled over, is moving at a sluggish pace.

Cones are still in place marking the area of the accident and charred markings can also still be seen where the truck overturned, at around 9 a.m., Tuesday.

The tanker became engulfed in flames on the entrance ramp from SR-874 to the southbound Florida Turnpike, at Southwest 152nd Street. Highway officials shutdown southbound lanes, while traffic northbound was affected, as well.

The driver was able to get out of the vehicle and walked away. He is expected to be OK and had only minor injuries.

Before Miami-Dade Fire Rescue crews were able to get the fire under control, all lanes were shutdown in both directions. This caused an hours-long backup on the Florida Turnpike extension in both the northbound and southbound lanes.

“I’ve been here for over an hour,” said Samantha Santana who was caught in the traffic. “It happens.”

One driver said she was three cars behind when the fire ignited. “At 9:15 we were pulled over. I only had two cars in front of me. I was the third car on the left and they shut us down,” she said. “I’m lucky. Could of been a lot worse.”

Another driver just accepts that accidents like this can happen during the daily commute. “It is what it is,” said driver Steve Wolf. “I mean, we can’t really do anything about it. We’re stuck, and I feel sorry for the driver of the tanker.”

The fire was so severe, that a foam truck had to be brought in from Miami Executive Airport. According to Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Lt. Felipe Lay, the foam is used to suppress and suffocate flames as quickly and safely as possible. “They’re extremely difficult to put out because they burn at such a high temperature,” he said.

Even witnesses and residents from nearby homes couldn’t look away from the roaring fire.

“It’s actually really scary,” said Alex Mehia who stopped to look at the engulfed truck. “So we decided to see what’s going on and to see if everyone was OK, to see if it was anyone that we knew.”

“Those flames are so big that you just had to see what’s going on,” said witness Duane Jaones.

Lay said the smoke from the fire did not affect the neighboring houses. “The way the smoke is rising up, it’s not affecting the homes at the present moment … What we’re concerned about is the actual flame, to put that out and to prevent any run-off of the fluid or flammable liquid.”

Once the fire was contained to a smaller size, the northbound lanes reopened. Around noon, several southbound lanes reopened.

“The location where the incident happened is a big concern,” said Lay. “What our units are currently doing are providing safety for any traffic coming in any direction.”

Five hours after the fire was put out, crews turned the tanker upright before cleaning up the scene.

A tow truck later arrived to remove the overturned truck from the road.

7News Viewers captured the moments following the accident.

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