TROY, Mich. (FOX 2) - UPDATE: As of 5 a.m. Tuesday, I-75 is still shut down on the northbound side from Rochester to Big Beaver and on the southbound side from Square Lake to Rochester. You'll be detoured using Woodward but expect major delays. Check in with FOX 2 throughout the morning for the latest updates. - Traffic Authority Kellie Rowe
I-75 is closed in both directions at Big Beaver as of Monday night after a tanker truck hit the median wall and erupted into flames. This evening the shell of that truck has been removed but a Hazmat crew continues cleanup expected to stretch into the early morning hours overnight.
The driver, a 46-year-old from St. Clair, suffered only minor injuries. It could be days before the extent of the damage to the freeway is known.
Video from the Troy police was taken from a car behind the tanker, showing the truck slide from the middle lane into the center barrier and erupt in a fireball. Viewer video from people near the Big Beaver exit on I-75 in Troy shows the massive plumes of smoke from 14,000 gallons worth of gas and diesel fuel which burned for two hours.
"I’m told he was alert and was able to get into the ambulance, and they did an evaluation and transported him," said Troy Fire Lt. Dan Mahrle.
Once he and others were moved to safety, firefighters tackled the flames with foam used to smother the fire.
"So we brought that additional resource in with class b foam to help extinguish the fire and suppress the vapors," Mahrle said.
"You look at the shell of that tanker and there is nothing left," said Rob Morosi, MDOT spokesperson.
The fire likely did a lot of damage to a portion of I-75 that was recently renovated.
"Conceivably we might have to replace the pavement," Morosi said. "There's no doubt about it. A fire that hot will absolutely render the pavement brittle."
But that assessment may take a while. Most of the fuel likely burned up, but the rest was sent flowing off the freeway.
"When you are on an embankment like that you have a lot of fuel that will rush into the drainage structures and or into the ditching on the side of the freeway," Morosi said. "All of that will have to be cleaned up."
Large trucks of dirt were dumped in the ditches to contain the spill. Still, the Michigan Department of Transportation says it's hard to put a timeline on when this stretch of road will be drivable again.
"It’s going to be a late-night for our guys," Morosi said.
In the meantime, drivers can expect a detour - heading north you will have to exit at Rochester Road, while southbound is getting off at Square Lake. Again MDOT not giving a timetable for reopening at this moment.
For the latest traffic updates go to fox2detroit.com/traffic