Residents still shaken from fiery tanker wreck

June 5, 2010 5:09:04 PM PDT
It was a big explosion that lit up the night sky in northwest Harris County. A tanker truck blew up in a crash Friday night, injuring 3 people and causing a big gas spill. People who live nearby are shaken, thankful it wasn't worse. Thousands of gallons of gasoline spilled out of the crash that closed parts of the Sam Houston Tollway near Antoine.

"We heard the boom, boom, boom," said Coddi Smith, who owns a hair salon in the area.

Smith's salon was filled with customers when they were rocked by the explosion. She says the blast shook her windows and blew out the lights.

"I shut all the dryers off. I shut the TVs off," she said.

Nervous about what was happening, the women inside rushed outside to check out the commotion.

"Flames just started shooting out, hitting cars, hitting cement blocks, hitting grass, just burning up, burning up flames," she said

Investigators say a car and a van collided with a tanker truck that was hauling 8,700 gallons of gas. The accident caused the tanker to tip, sending gasoline into storm drains. The vapors ignited, sparking a huge blaze and a series of subsequent explosions.

John Marsden lives in the neighborhood bordering the blast. He was one of the first on the scene and recorded video on his camcorder from across the street.

Marsden says the gas fumes grew so strong, they burned his eyes. The odor, he says, is still infused in his clothes.

"You could actually smell it, inhale it in," he said. "You could pretty much taste it in your mouth, pretty much I'd say."

While her hands might still be shaky, Smith says her heart is calm. It's incredible to her that everyone came out of the fiery scene alive.

"Not amazing," she said. "That's a miracle. Whoever was in that tanker is truly blessed, Truly, truly, truly blessed. "

The fire did damage a section of the road, which TxDOT will have to fix in the weeks to come.

We called the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, or TCEQ, about the gas that leaked. They tell us there is no immediate threat to human health from it.


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