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Tanker truck explodes on I-440; witnesses pull driver to safety

Posted August 26, 2008
Updated August 27, 2008

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— A tanker truck carrying 10,000 gallons of gasoline caught fire overnight on Interstate 440 in Raleigh, closing the highway for a time and lighting the night sky with flames.

It happened around midnight on the Inner Loop of the Beltline just before Rock Quarry Road. The road was closed early Tuesday, but lanes re-opened by 6:30 a.m.

Police identified the driver as Anthony White, 48, of Graham. His tanker belonged to Erwin Oil Company of Durham, according to the police report.

White suffered life-threatening injuries and burns. Emergency crews took him to WakeMed. he was later transfered to UNC Hospitals, where he was listed in critical condition Wednesday morning.

Witness K.C. Minter said he was one of four people who pulled White to safety after the crash.

“He must have been driving between 70 and 80 mph. He didn’t make the turn (and went) into the shoulder. The tanker rolls over, and it blows up about 2 or 3 seconds later," Minter said. "All of 40 was on fire."

There were several small explosions as the fire raged. Firefighters estimated the truck had been carrying 10,000 gallons of gasoline when it rolled. Tankers like the one that crashed normally have several tanks within the trailer.

"There was no way you could just drive by," Minter said. "We got around the tanker truck and found the driver about 10 feet from the truck. Me and three other people managed to drag him to safety and waited for EMS to show up."

Yasmanny Rodriguez, another witness who helped the driver, said White "was burnt really bad."


This story is closed for comments.

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  • haggis basher Aug 27, 2008

    "Haggis Basher - if you really read my post you would see that I was referring to flesh and blood humans as angels."
    Then why did you say "I know angels are real"......People are real, people that act like mythical angels are real, Angels however are not.
    As regards it being a fantasy that people will stop for accidents. I always stop and help and have ALWAYS found that others do to. Yes there are some selfish types that don't but they are in the minority in my experience. Most people are essentially good at heart and beleif in Fairies is not a prerequistite for that.

  • firecaptain2000 Aug 26, 2008

    Crayzee1 said, "Sorry but 1 gallon of gas IS NOT EQUAL to 14 sticks of dynamite. That is just plain careless to say."

    You need to do some some research. FACT: The pressure exerted on the atmosphere by the sudden ignition of 1 gallon of gasoline is equivalent to 14 sticks of dynamite.

    "Where do you get your information?"

    Don't believe me if you want, but the information you contradict is readily available on credible websites hosted by universities and the federal govt.

    "They why wouldn't people just use GAS instead of dynamite"

    Simple... would you want to be the one lighting the fuse???

    Whether accidental, or intentional my original post was intended to put into perspective the dangers of gasoline when released, vaporized and allowed to reach a heat source. It's something we use daily take for granted every daily... like the fact that Gasoline has a higher flashpoint than diesel fuel and kerosene... but that's another story.

  • firecaptain2000 Aug 26, 2008

    Mustang Sallie said, "no one is trying to be as smart as you"

    I wasn't trying to be the most astute. Your facts fell short of telling the whole story. I thought I would throw out some undisputable facts of my own. Plus, I still think WRAL got this one right even though their numbers are off slightly. They can only report the "facts" based on the information they gather from the public and/or private sector.

    "Furthermore gasoline does not explode, it will ignite when it reaches its flashpoint, or the temperature when the substance produces a vapor than can ignite."

    Wrong again, it does NOT "ignite" at it's flashpoint, it "flashes". Thus the term FLASHpoint Ignition occurs at the "fire point".

  • IfByWhiskey-a-go-go Aug 26, 2008

    I'll second what weetie says. I've also had a 3rd degree burn. It is a long and painful recovery. Until you are burned likewise, you have no idea of the pain this man will be forced to endure. My prayers are with him too.

  • pebbles262004 Aug 26, 2008

    There is nothing like being burned it hurts to no end and there is nothing that can really be done about it my thoughts and prayers goes out to him and his family. I will hope for a speedy recovery

  • Weetie Aug 26, 2008

    This is so sad. If you have ever been severely burned, you know that no matter what the treatment is there is absolutely nothing to help the pain. I had 3rd degree burns back in the 80's and there is nothing to describe it. I am so very sorry for Mr. White. My prayers are with him and his family.

  • flowerlady03 Aug 26, 2008

    "actually most will stop if they think they can help. At least thats my experience."

    Seriously, who is living in fantasy land now? I hear about people passing on by more often than those that stop. And in this situation people took on a burning inferno. I'm not even sure that I'd be brave enough to do what they did and I question whether you would either.

    And btw, do you really think those good citizens are going to take offense to being called angels? I think not. Even if they don't believe in god they are at least adult enough to know that it is a compliment.

  • Mustang Sallie Aug 26, 2008

    Agreed... EM 406 tankers do not have the capacity to haul 10k gallons of product, However, I doubt that even you Mustang Sallie, can tell the difference in the event of a gasoline explosion and I do not believe WRAL was trying to sensationalize this story by round off to 10k gallons.

    I guess I live in my fairy tale world where I expect to get the "truth" or I expect to get less than a full report. It is pretty plain to see firecaptain2000 that all of the load is gone regardless of the amount so maybe WRAL could have just left out the gallon amount, but it would certainly get your attention easier if 10,000 gallons was reported than simply a fuel tanker carrying gasoline? Was my only point. Chill out, no one is trying to be as smart as you. Furthermore gasoline does not explode, it will ignite when it reaches its flashpoint, or the temperature when the substance produces a vapor than can ignite.

  • smegma Aug 26, 2008

    Is this what screwed up traffic this morning?

  • FromClayton Aug 26, 2008

    I am not defending what Raleigh said.... He seems bitter... but in all fairness, he did mention the pain of the man before the cost of the gas. And I must say I thought of what a shame it was to loose all that gas.... also AFTER I thought about the poor man. Keep in mind that thought pauses and flows, writing is read at the speed in which the reader reads it. The gas may have been an afterthough 2 minutes after consern for the person, but when you read it on your computer screen it comes imidently after the part about the hurt human being.

    And it is really a shame to loose all that gas, however it is more of a shame that people were hurt. I think most of us know that is the order.