Tanker explosion closes I-75 in LP, Melvindale

Photo courtesy of the Dearborn Fire Fighters Association Firefighters attempt to put out a tanker fire on I-75 near Outer Drive in Lincoln Park early this morning.

Photo courtesy of the Dearborn Fire Fighters Association
Firefighters work to put out a tanker fire on I-75 near Outer Drive in Lincoln Park early this morning.

Southbound lanes open; northbound lanes expected to re-open Monday

A tanker carrying 8,000 gallons of gasoline crashed and exploded on I-75 near the Melvindale-Lincoln Park border about 3:20 a.m. today.

Michigan State Police investigators said the driver appears to have lost control of the vehicle on southbound I-75, causing the truck to hit the median wall and flipped into the northbound lanes. No other vehicles were involved.

The 53-year-old driver was rushed to a nearby hospital where he was listed in critical condition with burns over 90 to 95 percent of his body, MSP Lt. Mike Shaw said.

“Right now, it’s not looking very good for the driver,” Shaw said. “He was transported. He had burns over 95 percent of his body, so, we’re definitely concerned about his position. He is at a local hospital right now.”

The crash and fire closed I-75 in both directions. The southbound lanes were closed at Schaefer Road at the Melvindale-Detroit border, but re-opened about noon. The northbound lanes were closed at Southfield Road in Lincoln Park, and are expected to re-open by 5 a.m. Monday, a Michigan Department of Transportation spokesperson said.

Diane Cross, of MDOT, said the freeway’s surface is incinerated and not safe to carry weight.

“The concrete is severely damaged and all lanes need to be replaced on northbound I-75 at Outer Drive,” Cross said.

“First, we have to make repairs to the median wall, which was damaged by the fire. We also had a light pole knocked into the freeway, and we had to have power cut off.”

Cross said, the Lincoln Park Fire Department earlier dealt with flareups from the tanker and from gasoline that flowed into the freeway sewer system. None of the fuel made its way to the nearby Rouge River, she said.

“It’s definitely a HAZMAT situation,” Cross said. “We have to get fuel out of the tanker and the freeway sewer system. According to the fire department, it looks like none of the fuel escaped into the nearby residential sewer system.”

Anyone who may have witnessed the crash is asked to contact the Michigan State Police at 248-584-5740.