The massive explosion at 10:45 this morning of a semi-tanker carrying up to 1,000 gallons of liquid propane has resulted in closings along roughly one-fourth of I-465 that transportation officials say may last for weeks. The tanker was traveling southbound on the ramp from I-69 to I-465 when its top hit the east-west I-465 overpass and it burst into flames, causing an explosion that was seen, heard, and felt for miles.
Two men working in a nearby apartment complex who witnessed the event risked their own lives to pull the driver of the tanker from the burning vehicle just before it exploded into a huge ball of flames. The driver was taken to Methodist Hospital. The driver of the vehicle behind the tanker suffered severe burns and has been hospitalized as well, while others with injuries were treated at the scene. Amazingly, no fatalities have been reported.
Nearby witnesses spoke of hearing a deafening boom and buildings shaking, while the fireball and plumes of black smoke could be seen for miles. Billboards and a cellphone tower caught fire, in addition to a blaze of fire on the ramp resulting from the spilled fuel.
The fires are now said to be under control; however, cleanup and repairs will be extensive. A pillar on the east side of the overpass collapsed, and two steel girders on the west side sustained damage. As a result, eastbound lanes of I-465 are closed from Meridian/U.S. 31 to I-69, and northbound lanes of I-465 are closed from I-70 on the east side to I-69. Earlier I-69 was closed south of State Road 67-Madison County, but it has since reopened. It's estimated, however, that major stretches of I-465 will be closed for weeks to come.
This no doubt comes as sobering news to those who travel to and from the northeast side of Indy, in addition to residents of Fishers and Noblesville, as this stretch of interstate has long been a major commuter route and one of the most congested areas in the city. Patience and perseverance will be required in the days and weeks to come.