Alaska Highway tanker truck fire fatal

Police continue to investigate after a tanker carrying crude oil caught fire and killed a man Tuesday on the Alaska Highway north of Fort St. John.

Black plumes of smoke were seen across the city and from Taylor, and witnesses report hearing an explosion near the 271 Road around 4 p.m.

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BC RCMP Traffic Services said Wednesday the truck was travelling southbound when it made a sharp left turn across the highway, upon which time it rolled over into the opposing ditch and caught fire.

The lone driver, a man in his late 40s from the Central Interior region, was not able to escape the wreckage and was killed as a result, RCMP said.

RCMP are investigating and are asking anybody who witnessed the incident or has dashcam video to please contact police at 250-787-8140.

Fort St. John and Charlie Lake Fire Departments contained the fire while RCMP said officers evacuated motorists and residents from the area for their health and safety, due to the toxicity of the fire.

No other people, vehicles, structures or nearby forested areas were affected, RCMP said.

The highway was closed through Tuesday night and into Wednesday morning as the fire was extinguished and police investigated. Traffic through the area is open to one lane as of this writing.

Firefighters from Charlie Lake, Fort St. John, and Taylor responded. The Ministry of Environment says an Environmental Emergency Response Officer is also on scene. 

The fire involved a tanker and a pup trailer hauling an estimated 40,000 litres of crude oil, a ministry spokesperson said.

Two nearby homes were evacuated, and firefighters contained the fire to the site of the accident and adjacent ditches, the spokesperson said.

Full update from BC RCMP Traffic Services:

On May 26, 2020 at approximately 4:05 PM, Fort St. John RCMP and Emergency Services, including Fort St. John and Charlie Lake Fire Departments, attended a fatal collision on Highway 97 near 272 Road in Charlie Lake, BC.

Upon arrival, it was determined that a southbound tanker truck hauling crude oil made a sharp left turn across the highway, upon which time it rolled over into the opposing ditch and caught fire. The lone driver of the tanker, a man in his late forties from the Central Interior region of the province, was not able to escape the wreckage and was killed as a result.

Fort St. John and Charlie Lake Fire Departments contained the fire while RCMP officers evacuated motorists and residents from the area for their health and safety, due to the toxicity of the fire. No other people, vehicles, structures or nearby forested areas were affected. Highway 97 was closed until the fire was extinguished and police could investigate further. It was re-opened once it was deemed safe for travel.

North Peace Regional Traffic Services (Fort St. John), Commercial Vehicle Safety Enforcement officers, WorkSafeBC, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure and the BC Coroners’ Service continue to investigate the cause of this collision.

Police are asking for any witnesses to this collision, including any dash camera footage of the tanker prior to the crash, to contact North Peace Regional Traffic Services in Fort St. John at 250-787-8140. 

This is a developing story.

Email Managing Editor Matt Preprost at editor@ahnfsj.ca.

© Copyright Alaska Highway News

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