Emergency responders with the Howard County Volunteer Fire Department were called to the scene of a rollover accident Saturday night after a tanker truck carrying fuel caught fire on N. Highway 87, eight miles north of Big Spring.
The truck — an 18-wheeler tanker believed to be carrying some type of fuel — rolled onto its side following a traffic accident in the northbound lane. The driver was transported to Scenic Mountain Medical Center with unknown injuries.
According to law enforcement officials, the cause of the wreck is not known at this time and is believed to be under investigation.
Shortly after the accident, the tanker's payload ignited, according to HCVFD Chief Tommy Sullivan.
“The initial call came in at approximately 11:15 p.m. Saturday,” Sullivan said. “The report was of a gasoline tanker explosion on U.S. Highway 87. When our firefighters arrived on the scene, they found the tanker, which was laying across N. Highway 87, fully engulfed.”
Sullivan said no injuries — other than those sustained by the driver of the tanker — were reported.
“Fighting a tanker fire like that is a lot like fighting a fire at the refinery, so our guys were prepared,” Sullivan said. “There was a great deal of gasoline and diesel to deal with. However, the firefighters had the high flames and the majority of the fire down within about 10 minutes of being on the scene. They hit it with the foam application and knocked it down pretty quick. After that, it was mainly a matter of keeping the metal from the tanker cool so we didn't have any secondary explosions.”
Sullivan said he and his firefighters had plenty of help on the fire, which his emergency responders were on the scene of until 4:30 a.m. Sunday.
“We had 10 units from Howard County, five from Dawson County, three from Ackerly and two from Lamesa,” Sullivan said. “So, we had plenty of assistance.”
The condition of the tanker driver was not available at press time.