Two killed after tanker fire on I-85
Two lanes of I-85 have reopened in Gwinnett County after a fatal multi-vehicle crash caused a massive fire that blocked the interstate for hours.
Large flames and thick black smoke could be seen billowing hundreds of feet above the interstate Saturday morning after a tanker carrying 8,500 gallons of fuel crashed near the Jimmy Carter Boulevard exit just before 8 a.m., authorities said.
Gwinnett police confirmed two people were killed in the wreck: the driver of the tanker and one person from another car involved in the fiery crash. Their names have not been released.
The tanker was transporting 7,500 gallons of gasoline and another 1,000 gallons of diesel fuel when it crashed and overturned, Gwinnett fire spokesman Lt. Justin Wilson said.
As police approached the scene of the crash, officers witnessed a large explosion, authorities said. The fuel then entered a nearby sewer drain, prompting the fire to spread to the southbound lanes of I-85.
The fire damaged the asphalt across all five northbound lanes, and crews were brought in to make emergency repairs, according to Georgia Department of Transportation spokesman Scott Higley.
“The impacted section of I-85 is approximately 100 feet by 70 feet and all five lanes of the highway are affected,” he said. “Crews will work to repave and reopen lanes individually throughout the day and will reopen lanes to traffic as soon as it is safe to do so.”
Two lanes reopened just before 3:20 p.m, authorities said.
It’s unclear how long it may take to repair the remaining lanes.
GDOT cameras appeared to show people standing on the side of the interstate as firefighters worked to put out the flames coming from the overturned tanker
The fire was extinguished about 10 a.m. and police reopened the southbound travel lanes shortly after that.
Several drivers in the northbound lanes abandoned their vehicles on the interstate after waiting nearly four hours for the road to clear.
Surface streets are still heavily affected, the WSB 24-hour Traffic Centerreported. Drivers are urged to use Buford Highway or Ga. 141, if possible.