Now thats a Foam Blanket!
Here are the Brothers in Queens during yesterdays roll over tanker explosion.
January 17, 2006
Chaos in Queens as Fuel Truck Flips Over and Explodes
By COREY KILGANNON
A tanker truck carrying 8,000 gallons of gasoline overturned on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway yesterday at midday and burst into flames, shooting a geyser of fire over a bustling Queens thoroughfare, sending screaming pedestrians fleeing, and closing the expressway in both directions, the authorities and witnesses said.
Nearby stores, houses and other buildings were evacuated as more than 100 firefighters fought the two-alarm blaze, which burned for two and a half hours and weakened the steel beams on an unfinished temporary bridge over the highway, causing part of it to collapse onto the burning tanker and the charred expressway.
There were no serious injuries. The driver of the tanker escaped the fire and was treated for minor injuries by paramedics.
The accident, which occurred just before noon as the eastbound tanker was crossing under Roosevelt Avenue in Woodside, caused major traffic disruptions. Besides closing the expressway throughout most of Queens, officials shut down service on the No. 7 train, which runs on elevated tracks above Roosevelt Avenue.
Service on the No. 7 train resumed yesterday afternoon, but early today, the lanes of the expressway were still closed heading toward La Guardia Airport. The fire flared up again about 10 p.m., briefly shutting down the No. 7 train again and setting back efforts to fully reopen the expressway, one of the city's busiest highways. City transportation officials could not say whether it would be open in time for the morning rush.
The ExxonMobil tanker truck had filled up at a terminal in Brooklyn yesterday morning and was headed out to make a delivery. As it passed under Roosevelt Avenue, a point where the expressway veers to the left, it tipped over and erupted into flames, officials said. A loud boom was followed by additional smaller explosions, witnesses said, terrifying nearby residents and pedestrians on Roosevelt Avenue, including dozens of day laborers gathered there to wait for work.
"There was a loud boom that shook the ground, and then a big ball of fire shot up and lots of smoke," said one of the laborers, Julius Hernandez, 25, of the Bronx. "There was mucho fuego - a lot of fire - and everyone just started running."
Hyejhin Park, 13, whose apartment overlooks the accident site, said that just after the truck ignited, a No. 7 train rumbled through the smoke but missed the flames.
"It was just this big, giant thing and every time it exploded again, you'd jump back," she said of the blaze.
John Sim, 11, who lives in an apartment overlooking the expressway, said, "I heard a boom and the truck scraping along the road, then it just sounded like bombs exploding."
Near the burning truck, investigators could be seen interviewing its driver at length. Police officials would not disclose the driver's name and kept him away from reporters. Investigators said that inspections were still being done to determine the cause of the accident, but police officials last night said there seemed to be no criminality involved.
For roughly 20 minutes, flames roasted the large steel girders of a temporary bridge that spans the expressway, parallel and adjacent to Roosevelt Avenue just to the north. Its girders and the heavy wooden timbers they supported collapsed onto the burning tanker, witnesses and the authorities said.
For hours, the flames seemed to mock the firefighters, on cherry-picker platforms, spraying the fire from above with foam. A fire chief in a helicopter helped direct the effort.
City officials said that traffic was lighter than usual yesterday, a federal holiday. Still, many subway riders were stranded, and cars clogged streets in northwest Queens because traffic had been diverted from both the expressway and Roosevelt Avenue. Part of Roosevelt Avenue was closed, along with local streets around the accident site.
Train service was stopped during the fire because of fear that sparks from the tracks would fall onto the spilled fuel, and to enable teams of inspectors to verify the stability of the support under Roosevelt Avenue and the elevated tracks, said Michael W. Lee, a director for the city's Office of Emergency Management.
He said reopening the expressway would be a huge job involving clearing the tanker wreckage, cleaning up the gasoline spill and shoring up the damaged portions of the bridge, which is to be used eventually as a detour during a construction project on Roosevelt Avenue.
The heat weakened the beams, and Mr. Lee said, "That is one of the concerns, whether they are stable and how we can correct that."
He said that "it is difficult to give a time frame," but that "we're doing everything we can do to get it back to some level of normalcy."
Paula Chen, a spokeswoman for ExxonMobil, said last night, "We can't speculate about the cause, but we are working with the Fire Department and also conducting our own investigation."