NOPD cites driver for massive fuel tanker fire on I-10

Smoke from tanker fire (Source: Rob Masson)
Smoke from tanker fire (Source: Rob Masson)

The 24-year-old driver involved in a massive fuel tanker truck fire on Interstate 10 Tuesday has been cited as cleanup crews continue to clear the mess.

The driver, who suffered mild injuries in her escape, has now been released from the hospital.

The fire closed the eastbound interstate for 7 hours. One lane of traffic remains closed.

"You're going to have a safety hazard," said hazmat expert Chris Leney. "It's a flammable material - the vapors and the materials itself."

The driver, 24-year-old Jasmine Henderson of New Orleans, was hauling more than 8,000 gallons of gasoline when the truck flipped on I-10 East as she entered off of I-510. She told investigators it was unavoidable.

"There was another car that the driver tried to avoid," said Supt. Tim McConnell, with the New Orleans Fire Department. "The tractor trailer turned over, spilled it's fuel and ignited."

The flames shot 20 to 30 feet, and a plume of smoke extended for several miles. Henderson was taken to New Orleans East Hospital, where police said she was cooperating with the investigation.

"After every incident, [blood testing is] required," said Leney.

Henderson was cited for failure to maintain control.

Investigators are also looking into the background of the trucking company, Dupre Logistics, LLC, which has offices in New Orleans and Lafayette.

"Those hazmat haulers have to go through a Department of Transportation  process, and have to be qualified - both the company and the driver," said Leney.

With smoke billowing across New Orleans East,  firefighters treated it as a hazmat situation and knew exactly what to do once they identified the tanker's cargo as gasoline.

"Once they got foam, we placed it under control," said Sid McConnell.

But the cleanup could take weeks.

"A lot of times, whatever has migrated to the soil will be addressed through excavation," said Leney.

And authorities hope that through their investigation, they may learn something to prevent future accidents.

New Orleans police said they continue to interview witnesses to the accident.

We reached out to the trucking company for comment, but so far have not heard back.

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