LINCOLN PARK, Mich. – Police say an early-morning tanker crash and fire on I-75 critically injured the truck's driver, sending flames into the air and forced the closure of the interstate.
The northbound lanes are closed between Southfield Road and Outer Drive.
Southbound lanes are back open, but police and MDOT are urging drivers to avoid the area. Use Dix, Fort or I-94 to get around the area.
The northbound lanes are expected to be closed for at least a week.
Michigan State Police Lt. Mike Shaw said the crash was reported about 3 a.m. An initial investigation suggests the 53-year-old tanker driver lost control while going south, stuck the median and flipped into the northbound lanes.
The tanker was carrying 8,000 gallons of gasoline.
No other vehicles were involved.
"I think this could have been a lot worse. If this had occurred during rush hour traffic, or any other time the freeway is busy, we would have had a very big incident on our hands," said Lincoln Park Fire Chief Al Dyer.
The driver of the tanker is in critical condition.
"Right now, it's not looking very good for the driver. He was transported. He had burns over 95 percent of his body. So, we're definitely concerned about his position. He is at a local hospital right now," Shaw said.
The driver worked for Corrigan Oil Company.
"The safety and well being of our employees, contractors and neighbors is our first priority and we ask you to keep our driver in your thoughts and prayers. Corrigan Oil Company is working with local authorities to determine the cause of the accident and as information becomes available," the company said in a statement.
MDOT spokeswoman Diane Cross said crews will be assessing the structural damage to the interstate, but there was one lucky break.
"Because of the storm, we had a power outage at the nearby pump house, which is what pumps water off the freeway. The power outage kept it from pumping. Had that had power, it would have pumped all this gasoline into the Rouge River and we would have had a much larger problem," Cross said.
Anyone who witnessed the crash is being asked to contact the Michigan State Police at 248-584-5740.
--Photo: Ian Kushnir ( Dearborn Fire)
Raw video: daylight video of I-75 tanker scene