Philadelphia, PA – A major disaster has occurred in Philadelphia as a section of the northbound Interstate 95 (I-95) collapsed following a tanker truck fire that erupted underneath the highway, according to city officials.
The incident took place early Sunday morning and was confirmed by Philadelphia Fire Department Battalion Chief Derek Bowmer in a news conference. Bowmer said, “We did have a collapse of I-95 on the northbound side, and the southbound side is compromised by heavy fire.” He further added that there was “a lot of heat and heavy fire underneath the underpass” and that there were explosions around the highway collapse area caused by possible runoff of fuel or gas lines that were compromised by the accident.
Firefighters are still battling the blaze, as authorities have closed down the highway in both directions. There is an ongoing investigation into the fire, according to Bowmer. (City of Philadelphia Office of Emergency Management/Reuters)
Sarah Peterson, Communications Director for the mayor’s office, confirmed that the tanker truck fire caused the collapse. She stated that the fire was under control but did not provide further details.
Dominick Mireles, Director of Philadelphia’s Office of Emergency Management, indicated the severity of the situation, saying, “Today’s going to be a long day. And obviously, with I-95 northbound gone, and southbound questionable, it’s going to be even longer than that. The roadway’s gone.”
Travelers are advised to avoid the area and seek alternative routes as urged by the Philadelphia Office of Emergency Management through their social media channels.
Environmental concerns have also arisen as the US Coast Guard launched a boat to observe any pollution in the waterways. They reported a sheen on the water, indicating the presence of gasoline. The tanker involved had the potential to spill 8,500 gallons of fuel. Cleanup efforts are ongoing, primarily focused on the shore side.
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney expressed gratitude to the first responders on social media and stated that city agencies are working with state partners to address the issue.
Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro and U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg have also addressed the incident, with Secretary Buttigieg confirming that the US Department of Transportation is offering assistance to Pennsylvania in the aftermath of the collapse.
At this time, there have been no reports of injuries. However, the incident is expected to have a significant long-term impact on traffic and the local community.
Interstate 95 is a critical highway, spanning from the Canadian border in Maine to Miami, Florida. This collapse is likely to have far-reaching consequences and authorities are expected to work extensively on recovery and reconstruction.
Images courtesy of CNN.