ROY — A fiery crash involving a fuel tanker on I-15 left traffic backed up for miles throughout most of the day Wednesday.
The accident started about 4:30 a.m. when a semitrailer hauling two pup tanks filled with about 5,000 gallons of diesel fuel crashed into a concrete barrier median on northbound I-15 near 6200 South, causing one tank to flip over the median onto its side. One of the tanks caught fire, but emergency crews were able to put it out quickly.
"Diesel burns slowly," said Utah Highway Patrol Sgt. Jeff Nigbur. "If it had been gas, we'd still be fighting it."
No other vehicles were involved in the accident.
The 55-year-old driver was taken to McKay-Dee Hospital Center with minor shoulder injuries, Nigbur said.
Investigators were looking Wednesday at several factors that may have caused the accident, including fatigued driving and possible DUI, he said. The UHP plans to recommend to the Weber County Attorney's Office charges of DUI, possession of drug paraphernalia and lane travel violation. Troopers do not believe alcohol was involved, but based on statements the driver made to troopers, Nigbur said toxicology tests would be conducted to look at the possibility of prescription drug or substance abuse.
By 10 a.m., southbound traffic on I-15 was reopened. By 2 p.m., one lane of northbound traffic was opened. Troopers said the freeway was completely reopened by 6 p.m., more than 12 hours after the accident occurred.
Most of the wreckage was cleaned up earlier, but the diesel fuel that leaked caused damage to the road, forcing Utah Department of Transportation crews to replace part of the road.
"The diesel has disintegrated some of the asphalt in two lanes," said UDOT spokesman Vic Saunders.
A section of road, about 25 feet long by 24 feet wide and 2 inches deep, had to be replaced. "The asphalt tends to be eaten up by the diesel. The road becomes unstable," he said.
Because of additional environmental cleanup and monitoring, the far left lane and shoulder remained closed well into Wednesday evening.
Contributing: Lana Groves
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