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A section of Interstate 95 in Philadelphia collapsed on Sunday when a tanker truck carrying a petroleum-based product caught fire beneath an overpass, according to officials.
Despite the traffic snarl, and reports of explosions, there were no reports of injuries as of press time.
Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro, a Democrat, said efforts were underway to identify any individual or individuals who may be caught in at least one trapped vehicle, per local media.
🚨#UPDATE: Watch as drone video shows the Major collapse of the northbound lanes of I-95, as police has closed both directions According to one reporter they are still Hearing loud blasts or bangs underneath where the tanker is pic.twitter.com/ArFad85bq7
— R A W S A L E R T S (@rawsalerts) June 11, 2023
Authorities blocked off a two-mile radius around the area, according to CBS Philadelphia. Officials urged commuters to take alternate routes or consider different forms of transportation.
“For now, please avoid the area and follow the direction of the first responders on the scene,” Shapiro said.
Shapiro said the northbound side of I-95 completely collapsed and could take “some number of months” to rebuild, local media reported.
Brad Rudolph, a Pennsylvania Department of Transportation spokesman, reportedly said a truck was driving on an offramp when a crash or other incident caused the fire.
“That structure quickly collapsed with the heat of the fire as big as it was,” he said. “And then the southbound structure was also shut down because it was compromised by the fire as well.”
Rudolph said authorities are still investigating the cause of the crash that led to the inferno and collapse.
“It seems like it was a vehicle accident,” Rudolph added. “That ramp can be tricky if you’re going at a high rate of speed.”
Several explosions were heard in the area, which Philadelphia Fire Department battalion chief Derek Bowmer attributed to fuel runoff or gas lines that could have been compromised by the accident, per the Associated Press.
I-95 is CLOSED in BOTH directions between Cottman and Academy due to an earlier tanker truck fire under I-95. The fire has caused major structural damage to the highway, so expect it to be closed for a very long time.#PhillyTraffic pic.twitter.com/m1IcTTVDyV
— TTWN Philadelphia (@TotalTrafficPHL) June 11, 2023
Dominick Mireles, the director of the Philadelphia Office of Emergency Management, warned of possible “environmental impacts” in the nearby Delaware River, according to The New York Times.
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg said he has been keeping tabs on the situation.
“Closely monitoring the fire and collapse on I-95 in Pennsylvania. I‘ve been in touch with [Federal Highway Administration] and spoke with Gov. Shapiro to offer any assistance that USDOT can provide to help with recovery and reconstruction,” Buttigieg said in a tweet.