Tanker spill closes Hwy. 82 in El Jebel
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
EL JEBEL ” A tanker truck full of gasoline rolled Sunday on Highway 82, closing both lanes and spilling gas onto the road.
The wreck occurred at 1:45 p.m. and closed the highway for most of the day as hazardous material crews from Glenwood Springs and the Colorado State Patrol worked to clear the gasoline and truck. Authorities detoured highway traffic in both directions onto a frontage road between the Valley Road stoplight in El Jebel and the downvalley end of the Blue Lake subdivision.
“The driver said, ‘I just turned the wheel and I flipped it,'” said Amber DeLuca, who was first to arrive at the scene of the wreck. “He said it was his second day on the job.”
The Colorado State Patrol, investigating the accident and coordinating the cleanup, did not release the name of the driver of the truck.
DeLuca’s apartment is adjacent to the highway just west of the El Jebel traffic light, where the accident occurred.
“At first, gas was spewing out over [the truck], there was a lot of gas running down the highway,” said DeLuca, who worked as a medic in the Marine Corps in Iraq. “I was like, ‘there’s a lot of gas but we need to get [the driver] out of there.'”
When she went down to the truck, she encountered the driver, who apparently was unharmed. Basalt Fire Deputy Chief Jerry Peetz said no one was taken to the hospital.
When Basalt firefighters arrived, Peetz said they worked to put a blanket of foam on the gas to keep the highly flammable vapors down.
“It’s the vapors that ignite,” Peetz said. “Fortunately, there was no fire involved from the beginning.”
Because Basalt firefighters were able to get the foam down on the gasoline, the decision was made not to evacuate people from the nearby apartments where DeLuca lives, Peetz said.
Twenty-four firefighters responded from Basalt, with four engines, as well as firefighters from Glenwood Springs and Carbondale. Personnel were involved from the Colorado Department of Transportation, Eagle County Sheriff’s Office and Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office.
At 6 p.m., Peetz said a hazardous materials team from the Colorado State Patrol was on the scene trying to transfer the remaining gasoline from the tanker to a second tanker, before attempting to tow the tanker that crashed. Clean-up was expected to continue through midnight but Peetz said crews were working to have the road clear by early morning.
“I wanted to bring a wheel barrow and collect all the gas,” DeLuca said . “I was like, ‘we kill for that.'”
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Ghez, 55, has long been a familiar name around the Aspen Center for Physics, a nonprofit launched in 1962 that seeks to bring the best minds in the world together for collaboration and innovation.