Crews will have to rebuild a bridge that carries traffic on the Florida Turnpike, after a fiery tractor trailer crash damaged the overpass.
A semi hauling flammable cooking spray was hit by a pickup truck and caught fire Monday morning on CR-561, directly under a Turnpike overpass. Troopers say dense fog was to blame for the early morning crash. The huge fire shut down both CR-561 and the northbound side of the Turnpike. Both roads were still closed late Monday night.
The closed roads have been causing traffic backups in the area. The main alternate route for people driving into Lake County is SR-50.
When the crash happened, troopers didn't realize the full extent of the damage. The flames from the crash blackened the beams of the overpass.
I could hear them on the loud speaker, telling them, You gotta turn around, you gotta make a u-turn, you can't get over the bridge, said witness Nancy Hendrix.
Hendrix is one of the few who lives close enough to hear what happened right after the crash.
Drivers traveling between Clermont and Tavares are being told to use CR-455 or SR-19. There's no easy way out for northbound traffic on the Turnpike, but drivers are being diverted to SR-50 and then north on US-27 back to the Turnpike.
Diverted northbound Turnpike traffic is packing SR-50. Drivers will head seven miles west to US-27, then turn north on 27 and rejoin the Turnpike 15 miles later in Leesburg. Those traveling between Clermont and Tavares on CR- 561 should now use CR-455 or US-27.
The semi truck driver, 46-year-old Willie Finn, is expected to recover from his injuries. The driver of the pick-up truck that crashed into the semi, Daniel Davis, got a $166 ticket for running the stop sign. Amazingly, both drivers in the crash were out of the hospital Monday afternoon and doing okay.
Meanwhile, the fiery crash led to another crash in Lake County Monday morning. There are several sharp curves on CR-561 and a fire truck tanker racing to help put out the semi fire, slid off the road and rolled over.
Two firefighters were hospitalized, but their injuries weren't severe.
Copyright 2009 by wftv.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.