Westbound I-44 In Tulsa Back Open After Fiery Truck Crash

Monday, November 15th 2010, 7:28 am
By: News On 6

NewsOn6.com & Emory Bryan, News On 6

TULSA, Oklahoma -- ODOT opened the westbound lanes of I-44 at Yale at Monday about noon after a tractor trailer carrying frozen chicken caught fire in crash early Monday morning.

Tulsa Fire was dispatched to the fire just after 4:15 a.m.

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol said the westbound semi hit a concrete barrier at the Yale Avenue overpass, causing one of the fuel tanks on the truck to burst into flames.

Troopers say the driver was able to escape unharmed but the flames caught the rest of the truck's trailer on the fire, closing down the interstate highway for several hours.

The Oklahoma Department of Transportation said the eastbound lanes of I-44 at the accident scene were reopened to traffic shortly after the incident, but the westbound lanes remain closed for several hours.

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What is left of the semi had been removed from the scene as ODOT crews cleaned up the bridge deck.

ODOT crews also inspected the bridge and its decking for any problems stemming from the fire before giving the final okay to reopen the highway. 

"And you can tell by the tone, the sound of the hammer hitting the concrete where you have hollow spots of whatever, but so far, so good," said Martin Stewart, ODOT. "Just got a couple of areas where the duals were sitting, where the tires got extremely hot while it was on fire."

Police said detoured traffic on the BA expressway caused several additional accidents.  One at U.S. Highway 169 and the BA and another at 41st Street bridge and the BA Expressway.

Engineers looked under the bridge deck and didn't find any significant problems. The damage that's there they say is only cosmetic, and while it needs repairs, it doesn't affect the safety of the bridge.