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Open cover on gas tank may have caused fire that led to I-95 collapse, NTSB says

By Joe Brandt, Nate Sylves, Ryan Hughes

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    PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania (KYW) — A year after a deadly truck crash and fire caused a section of I-95 in Philadelphia to collapse, federal authorities are releasing more information about what may have caused the explosion.

A Sunoco gasoline truck overturned while driving through a curve and crashed before catching fire and exploding under the Cottman Avenue overpass on June 11, 2023, killing the truck driver.

A report from the National Transportation Safety Board says that the fire “most likely originated when gasoline escaped from an open 16-inch manhole … of the trailer as it overturned, and the 2,499 gallons of gasoline/ethanol mixture contained in the compartment began to spill out of the tank and ignite.”

Another possible explanation for the fire, though less likely, is that the truck’s aluminum tank ruptured, or the the vapor capture components of the truck were damaged, releasing gas fumes that could have ignited. The truck cab’s diesel tank also could have ruptured, “or a combination of these factors occurred, and the escaping gasoline vapors or diesel vapors were ignited.”

The report says the driver filled up at the Buckeye Terminal in Wilmington and was headed to a Wawa on Oxford Avenue in Northeast Philadelphia but failed to close the 16-inch hatch, also referred to as a manhole, on the truck’s tank.

The crash closed the highway for weeks before workers put down a bed of a lightweight rock-like substance made from recycled glass and topped it with a temporary roadway through the center lanes.

Workers then started a permanent highway from the outer lanes and worked their way in. The completed permanent roadway on I-95 was fully opened in May 2024.

TK Transport, the company of the tanker truck in Pennsauken, New Jersey, said no one was available to speak about the NTSB report.

TK is also an affiliate of Penn Tank Lines in Chester Spring, Pennsylvania. We reached out for a comment but have not heard back.

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