Interstate 91 northbound reopened Monday afternoon after an oil cargo tanker rolled over and caught fire Monday morning, spilling 3,000 gallons of oil, according to state police and the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.
Police believe the tanker may have struck the Murdock Avenue overpass on the northbound side the highway between exits 16 and 15.
"It appears at this point, although it's preliminary, that it may have blown a tire and hit the bridge abutment, tore the tank off the trunk, splitting it down the back and turning it upside down," said Meriden Fire Chief Ken Morgan.
State police said a passenger car drove through the flames. The driver said he was shaken up but unharmed – although his Subaru melted. The tanker driver was taken to the hospital for treatment of non-life threatening injuries.
State Troopers & firefighters on scene rollover accident that has I-91 northbound lanes closed. Plan alternate route. pic.twitter.com/4V9JyasBGP— CT State Police (@CT_STATE_POLICE) July 13, 2015
Traffic is being diverted off the northbound side of the highway at exit 15, according to state police spokesman Trooper Kelly Grant. Police said the northbound lanes would remain closed until nightfall. The southbound side of the highway reopened around noon. Two lanes on the northbound side reopened around 4:15 p.m.
Footage from the scene of the crash shows a plume of black smoke rising up into the sky shortly. A large pool of oil and firefighting foam has seeped out into the highway. Meriden police said crews are letting the fire burn itself out in the grassy median.
Eversource is checking the coating on nearby power lines to see if heat from the fire may have melted the wires, according to Meriden police.
Crews from Berlin, Wallingford, Meriden, Middletown and New Haven provided mutual aid. A DEEP emergency response team was also called to the scene.