Texas 18-Wheeler Fuel Tanker Explodes

SUGAR LAND, Texas --

A fuel tanker-truck exploded on a Sugar Land feeder road.

The big rig driver, Courtney Williams, 33, was traveling on the southbound lanes of the Southwest Freeway near the Dairy Ashford exit at 11:30 p.m. Thursday when he realized there was a problem with his truck.

"The driver told us he heard a pop, so he pulled onto the feeder road," said Doug Adolph with the city of Sugar Land.

Minutes later, nearly 9,000 gallons of fuel exploded into flames, which shot hundreds of feet into the air.

"I got up and looked out the window and there was a big ball of flames. Then I woke up my mother. And we were watching it and it even exploded even more," said Laura Hazen, who was staying in a nearby hotel. "It shook our window and I also heard the power go off."

"It's pretty big. I thought it was going to catch something else on fire," witness Adam Orosco said.

Williams was not injured. Investigators said a small brake fire ignited the flames.

"It was crazy. Those were some big flames. I'm sure it had a lot of heat being that gas was burning up," one witness said.

Some of the fuel on board the tanker washed into the storm sewer, investigators said.

Several power lines caught fire, so power was cut off to 45 businesses in the area. Some businesses had to delay opening, including a gas station.

"I'm completely out of gas, so I'm not sure where the closest gas station is or where there is electricity around here," customer Mike Winkler said.

"It was dark. The emergency lights kicked in, but it did take a while for the power to restore," said an employee of a nearby hotel.

Power was restored Friday morning.

Crews spent Friday replacing power lines and flushing the sewer drains.

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