Tanker Explodes, Leaks Fuel Into Sewage System

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Video by NewsChannel5.com

Tanker Explodes, Leaks Fuel Into Sewage System

CREATED Aug 13, 2014 - UPDATED: Aug 13, 2014

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Clean up continued Wednesday night after a fuel tanker crashed earlier in the day on Centennial Boulevard in West Nashville.

A hazardous materials crew was able to contain fuel from the truck that had gotten into the storm sewer system, which empties into near-by Richland Creek.

"First reponders were able to get absorbent booms in place before the petroleum reached Richland Creek. Primary and secondary containment are in place, as of earlier this evening," said Sonia Harvat, spokeswoman for Metro Water Services.

Black smoke could be seen for miles from the scene on Centennial Boulevard near 61st Avenue North in west Nashville when the fire broke out around 12:30 p.m. Wednesday.

PHOTOS: Tanker Truck Explodes, Catches Fire

The tanker was driving down Centennial Boulevard when witnesses said it took a corner too quickly and overturned. The driver was able to make it out before the tanker exploded and caught fire.

Fuel vapors and smoke quickly filled the air.

NewsChannel 5 reporter Chris Cannon was near the scene when it happened, and said he could hear explosions.

The driver was able to get away from the tanker before the explosion. He sustained non-life threatening injuries and was transported to the hospital.

Commander Steve Holt with the Nashville Fire Department said firefighters were on the scene within four minutes. Crews responded from Fire Station 23, just a few blocks away.

A second alarm was called immediately.

The tanker was hauling 8,500 gallons of both gasoline and diesel fuel. When the tanker overturned, the fuel spilled into the roadway and Richland Creek.

Some of the fuel got into the sewer system, causing small explosions and leading to several small fires in the nearby Nations neighborhood.

“I ran,” said resident Chris Gober. “I said, ‘we got to go hoss, it’s still blowing up.’ I don’t know if the tires were still blowing up and then they had one great, big explosion that shook the ground again.”

Holt confirmed reports that several manhole covers blew off due to the vapors in the sewage system.

Tim Jarrell witnessed the crash, and several of the sewer covers fly into the air during multiple explosions.

"It came up, it went back down, and then all the smoke was coming out of the drains, out of the sewer drains, off the roads. It was just black smoke, and every time you'd see it explode, more smoke would roll out," Jarrell explained.

Schools were placed on lockdown and several residents and businesses were evacuated after a tanker overturned, exploded and leaked fuel into the Metro sewer system.

Metro Nashville Public Schools announced on their Twitter page that Cockrill Elementary, McKissack Middle and Bass ALC were all placed on lockdown due to the fire. Nashville Prep was also evacuated.

Police had reportedly moved some residents out the area, including a nearby daycare. Other residents were told to shelter in place.

Centennial Boulevard was blocked from 57th Avenue to the scene, and two blocks in either direction. Parts of Morrow Road remained blocked as well.

After about a half hour, all that remained was the burning remnants of the truck.

At a 2 p.m. press conference, Holt said officials believed the scene was safe, but they were still working to make sure.

He said foam was quickly put down to stop the spread of fuel.

The driver of the truck was identified as 33-year-old Jason Frizzell of Cookeville. He suffered minor injuries during the crash.

Frizzell was driving the tanker truck for Tri-Star Transport.