Semi Explodes On I-70

By: Lindsey Rogers
By: Lindsey Rogers

GEARY COUNTY, Kan. (WIBW)-- A tractor trailer burst into flames and exploded on Interstate 70 Tuesday after striking a truck that was painting lines in Geary County, east of Junction City.

The crash happened at 3 PM in the westbound lanes near mile marker 307, causing traffic delays in both directions as crews worked to put out the fire and clear debris.

Undersheriff Tony Wolf with the Geary County Sheriff's Office says the semi was headed back to Colorado hauling a shipment of railroad spikes when it came up on the slower moving line-painting truck, operated by a KDOT contract crew.

Wolf says the tractor trailer driver veered into the passing lane in an attempt to miss hitting the other truck but the semi clipped the back of the line-painting truck, causing a rupture in the passenger side fuel tank of the tractor trailer.

The semi caught fire but the driver managed to steer his burning truck onto the median. Wolf says the driver's 7-year-old daughter was asleep in the sleeper section and flames were already coming into the sleeper.

The driver pulled his daughter out and they ran across the interstate to safety. When the driver realized his cell phone and wallet were still in the burning truck, he took one step towards it to try to go back to get his belongings when Wolf says the fuel tank on the driver's side of the semi exploded, spraying diesel fuel and flames all over the roadway.

"The driver was able to get down into the median off the highway and he grabbed his daughter out of the sleeper of the semi and jumped out of the truck. He got the vehicle stopped and off the roadway and right before the explosion occurred, he and his daughter got out of the truck. It was a very bad accident and it was very fortunate no one did get hurt," Wolf told WIBW at the scene.

Other reported explosions came from the truck's tires, Wolf said.

There were no injures.

Traffic was reduced to one lane in both directions on the interstate near the scene of the accident. All lanes are now open.

Crews from Geary County, Junction City and Fort Riley responded to the scene as well as members of the Kansas Highway Patrol.

Clean up at the scene will continue on Wednesday.


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