I-70 was closed for 11 hours Sunday
A truck rollover that closed Interstate 70 through Edwards for 11 hours Sunday could have been much worse, the local fire chief said Monday.
The tanker was carrying 8,000 gallons of highly flammable petroleum crude oil concentrate when it rolled over into the median of the interstate shortly before noon. The oil was “potentially explosive,” Eagle River Fire Protection District Chief Charlie Moore said.
Both lanes of eastbound I-70 were closed for about 11 hours.
The tank did not rupture, but it did come to rest directly above a storm drain, Moore said. If the tank did break, it could have drained toward the new Battle Mountain High School, or even forced the closure of the entire interstate and evacuation of Singletree homes, Moore said.
Firefighters were not able to use the truck’s valves to empty the tanker, possibly because the valves were damaged in the accident. Instead, they used special tools to drill two holes in the tanker and transfer the oil to another truck.
“This operation presented a high degree of risk,” Moore said. “Closure of the eastbound lanes of the interstate highway was necessary because this product is easily ignited and it was simply too dangerous to resolve this incident with traffic passing by within a few feet.”
A thunderstorm delayed the cleanup for about two hours.
“The lightning was the big issue because the stuff was such a risk to ignite with any spark, even static electricity,” Moore said.
No one was hurt in the accident. The State Patrol and the Colorado Department of Transportation also helped with the response.
The oil had been removed from natural gas well and was being transported to Denver for refining, Moore said. The driver told fire personnel that his tire blew, Moore said.
Another semi truck crashed on eastbound Interstate 70 near Silt on Sunday afternoon, also closing the road there, said Cpl. Eric Wynn of the Colorado State Patrol.
Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 970-748-2929 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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