GREENWOOD VILLAGE, Colo. — A tanker carrying fuel and several other types of oil crashed and caused a massive fire on Interstate 25 just north of Orchard Road on Wednesday.
The crash happened in the northbound lanes about noon, causing both directions of the interstate to close for several hours.
Crews worked to repair the interstate to try to get some northbound lanes open in time for the Thursday morning commute.
Northbound lanes remained closed late Wednesday night near the Denver Tech Center. Traffic was being diverted off the interstate at Dry Creek Road.
“Crews have begun milling the northbound lanes to evaluate the maximum depth of damage to the asphalt. At this time, there is not an estimated time of reopening of the northbound lanes,” the Colorado Department of Transportation said in a statement late Wednesday night.
The massive fire shut down the interstate between Orchard Road and Belleview Avenue at about noon on Wednesday.
Three southbound lanes reopened at about 3:30 p.m., but the northbound lanes remained closed at Dry Creek Road.
CDOT crews will work through the night repairing the roadway in hopes of reopening all lanes of the highway by Thursday morning.
The extent of road damage wasn’t known Wednesday evening, so CDOT couldn’t guarantee that would happen.
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The driver was injured and taken to Swedish Medical Center. The extent of the injuries is not known.
Video shot by a witness showed a man jumping out of the passenger side of the tanker as the flames began to spread.
The man immediately rolled on the ground. Another man rushed toward the burning tanker to help him.
The man from the tanker stood up, then fell down, but was able to hobble away from the wreckage.
The man seen running to help in the video is a Colorado Department of Transportation employee.
Crews brought in special foam used to fight fuel fires.
“Our challenge: 500 gallons of Diesel + 500 gallons of eight different oil types,” South Metro Fire Rescue tweeted.
Our challenge: 500 gallons of Diesel + 500 gallons of eight different oil types.
— South Metro Fire Rescue (@SouthMetroPIO) May 31, 2017
The fire was finally extinguished at about 2:40 p.m.
The two southbound lanes closest to the center median will remain closed for repairs to the center median and the asphalt.
— Anica Padilla (@AnicaPadilla) May 31, 2017
The fire and explosions caused traffic to back up for several miles along on I-25 and I-225.
Some drivers stuck in the backups turned around on the highway and drove the wrong direction to get out of the gridlock.
— Mary (@maryejbrackett) May 31, 2017
Officials with E-470 said they would waive tolls in both directions until I-25 fully reopens, according to CDOT.
The fire also forced RTD to shut down light rail service through the area.
The heat from the fire reportedly melted some of RTD’s light rail tracks nearby, according to South Metro Fire. However, RTD is not confirming any damage to the tracks.
E, F & R light rail service shut down between Dry Creek & Belleview due to fire on I25. Use alt transportation, info https://t.co/EYH5HyP8Br
— RTD (@RideRTD) May 31, 2017
The smoke from the tanker fire was visible from several miles away.