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Driver killed in tanker explosion on Maryland freeway; fire damages nearby homes

A tanker truck hauling a flammable liquid crashed on a Maryland highway Saturday and caught fire, killing the driver and damaging several homes and vehicles, authorities said.

The truck crashed around noon on U.S. 15 in Frederick, about an hour's drive west of Baltimore. Photos showed massive flames and billowing smoke.

Fire crews arrived within minutes of receiving several emergency calls and found the truck completely engulfed in a fire that had also spread to three homes and automobiles, Frederick Fire Chief Tom Coe said at a news conference. 

One of those homes was extensively damaged, displacing the residents. The other two sustained minor damage, Coe said.

The tanker driver, who was not immediately identified, died, but no other injuries were reported, Coe said.

Driver killed in tanker explosion on Maryland freeway; fire damages nearby homes
Cell phone video of a tanker truck explosion on a freeway in Frederick, Maryland. March 4, 2023.  Storyful/JovialJay

Authorities said the exact chain of events that led to the crash is under investigation. Officials are also working to determine exactly what substance the tanker was hauling, though Coe said it was believed to be a commonly transported flammable liquid like gasoline or diesel fuel that poses no threat to the general public.

Crews will be monitoring the air quality and isolating the area where the liquid saturated soil for cleanup, he said. Officials said there was no breach of the city's sewer system or a nearby creek.

In a statement, Maryland Gov. Wes Moore said that multiple state agencies were on the scene "of this tragic accident." 

"My heart goes out to those affected by this tragedy in Frederick," Moore said. 

The crash initially shut down U.S. 15, which runs through the city of about 80,000 people, in both directions, the State Highway Administration said.

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