Fireball on I-10 is first step toward clearing wreck, opening highway

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Posted: Aug 23, 2012 12:57 AM by Trey Schmaltz
Updated: Aug 23, 2012 3:40 AM

  Rating: 3.0 (3 votes)

Topics: burning, i-10, fire, closure, leak, chemical, hazmat

Update: 3:38 a.m. - Fire officials say the evacuation and shelter in place have been lifted for residents living around the accident site on I-10 at Essen.

BATON ROUGE- Emergency crews began the process of cleaning up a hazardous materials crash scene on I-10 early Thursday morning.

Around midnight, chemicals were ignited in a controlled burn and venting event- creating a huge fireball.

Homes and a hotel near the scene on I-10 at Essen were evacuated.

The fire was the most dramatic part of a chaotic day where I-10 was closed between Essen and the 10/12 split. The 120,000 daily vehicles which travel that section of highway were forced to use surface streets to get around.

Wednesday morning, two separate crashes happened on I-10 East just east of the 10/12 split.

The first wreck happened when a vehicle hit a second vehicle, then struck the retaining wall on I-10E before flipping onto its top.

The second wreck happened shortly after, when a tanker truck hauling isobutane stopped for the crash and was rear-ended by an 18-wheeler. The impact caused the cargo tank to start leaking the highly flammable chemical onto the roadway.

After the burn Thursday morning, crews will start clearing I-10. But, there's no word on when it will reopen to traffic.

For now, drivers should plan on I-10 being closed.

Stay with and watch 2une-In beginning at 5 a.m. for updates.

Photo taken by WBRZ photojournalist Troy Gaulden early Thursday morning on I-10

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