Loveland Pass reopens nearly a day after rollover
August 7, 2009
SUMMIT COUNTY – Highway 6 over Loveland Pass was closed for nearly a full day after a fuel tanker crashed Wednesday afternoon and caught on fire, damaging the pavement and guardrail.
The highway closed at about 2:30 p.m. Wednesday and was reopened shortly before 1 p.m. Thursday, after repairs had been made to the road, according to Colorado Department of Transportation.
Firefighters with Lake Dillon Fire-Rescue were on scene nearly five hours Wednesday as they allowed the fire to consume the 7,300 gallons of diesel and unleaded fuels in the tanker.
The fire caused two boiling liquid expanding vapor explosions, which appear as great balls of fire.
“First, the fuel gets so hot it starts to boil; the boiling emits vapor, and that’s what explodes,” said Steve Lipsher, public information officer with Lake Dillon Fire-Rescue.
The fire’s flames reached as high as 150 feet, and temperatures were recorded up to 1,400 degrees.
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The tanker had rolled over while rounding a tight corner; the driver as well as witnesses were not injured in the ensuing fire.
Damage to the vehicle was about $150,000, according to initial estimates from LDFR.
While the highway was closed, vehicles carrying hazardous materials were directed hourly through Eisenhower Tunnel on Interstate 70. Those vehicles are typically routed over the pass.