A fuel tanker has exploded in a head-on collision with a pickup truck in California which killied both drivers.
The enormous flames shut down Highway 20 near Nevada City following the incident just after 10am local time on Wednesday morning.
Firefighters were unable to immediately reach the overturned tanker due to the 40-50ft-high (12-15m) flames and billows of black smoke coming from the wreckage, fuelled by 12,000-15,000 gallons of leaked fuel.
“I had to back off because stuff started exploding,” Steve Corso, who was one of the first on the scene, told the Sierra Sun. “It looks like a lot of oil is burning.”
The crash occurred when the pickup truck travelling north veered off into the lane of southbound traffic, local media reports. It is unclear what caused the driver to switch lanes.
California Fire Battalion Chief Bryan Farrell said they had to deal with “multiple explosions” from both vehicles.
“We had both from the commercial tow truck and the commercial fuel truck,” he said.
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“We had to coordinate resources to make access from both directions due to both the impact on the roadway and the effects of the fire on responding resources.”
Highway 20 Fire. pic.twitter.com/D5FN6xyrnS
— Placer Sheriff (@PlacerSheriff) January 31, 2018
#TrafficAlert Hwy 20 Nevada City at Uren Street to I-80 at Yuba Gap remains closed overnight for crash cleanup & CHP investigation. Only Hwy 20 residents with ID and proof of address are being allowed past closures. Plan for alternate routes in the a.m. – there is no ETO. pic.twitter.com/Au0iwWZqpM
— Caltrans District 3 (@CaltransDist3) February 1, 2018
An investigation into the cause of crash has been launched. The route remains closed with motorists warned to use alternative routes. The victims have not been identified.