'Boom, Boom, Boom!' Tanker Burns on South Jersey Highway, Nearby Homes Evacuated | NBC 10 Philadelphia

'Boom, Boom, Boom!' Tanker Burns on South Jersey Highway, Nearby Homes Evacuated

A tanker truck carrying fuel burst into flames along the Route 90 on-ramp to U.S. Route 130 in Pennsauken, New Jersey Monday morning. (Published Monday, Feb. 23, 2015)

UPDATE: New questions regarding whether the truck was authorized to carry gasoline

Residents were allowed back in their homes Monday after a fiery crash involving a tanker truck.

The tanker truck, filled to the brim with gasoline, erupted in flames after overturning on a busy Camden County, New Jersey roadway Monday morning.

Tanker Truck Aftermath: Neighbors Allowed to Re-Enter Homes After Air Quality Tests

[PHI] Tanker Truck Aftermath: Neighbors Allowed to Re-Enter Homes After Air Quality Tests
A tanker truck carrying gasoline overturned around 11am on Monday as it entered the on ramp from Route 90 to Route 130. The accident is still backing up traffic. But thankfully neighbors are re-entering their homes after an air quality test was performed. NBC10's Ted Greenberg spoke to residents nearby about the blazing inferno and thick smoke. (Published Monday, Feb. 23, 2015)

The TK Transport truck was carrying approximately 8,000 gallons of fuel when it ignited on the Route 90 eastbound on-ramp to US 130 north in Pennsauken, just east of the Betsy Ross Bridge, police said.

Pennsauken Police Captain Michael Probasco told NBC10 the truck overturned around 11 a.m. while its driver, 43-year-old Brian Ervin, navigated the ramp. For some reason, he lost control sending the truck into a guardrail before landing on Delaware River Port Authority land. The impact ruptured the tractor-trailer's tank and the gasoline began to burn.

Ervin was rescued from the burning vehicle by police arriving on scene. He was taken to Cooper Hospital where he was treated for minor injuries. No one else was hurt.

Flaming fuel poured out of the truck, running across the graded ramp, down an embankment and perilously close to the backyards of homes. A second fire started in a small wooded area behind homes.

Tanker Overturns, Causes Massive Inferno

[PHI] Tanker Overturns, Causes Massive Inferno
A tanker filled with 8,000 gallons of gasoline overturned on the northbound ramp from Route 9 to Route 130 in South Jersey. NBC10's Tim Furlong is on scene talking to neighbors about the inferno that burned close to their homes. (Published Tuesday, Feb. 24, 2015)

"I was in my kitchen with my dog and I hear, 'Boom, boom, boom,'" recalled resident Marisa Clements, who lives across the street from the ramp. At first, she thought someone was banging on her front door.

"It looked like the sky was falling. I just went out I knocked on my neighbor’s door and I said 'C’mon get out, get out, something’s blowing up,'" she said. "I was scared to death."

Greg Wicker, who lives across the street from Clements, heard six explosions before seeing a ball of flames.

"I didn’t know what to make of it, so I got out of bed and saw this inferno in the backyard and the house across the street," he said.

Skyforce 10 Above Overturned Tanker Truck Traffic

[PHI] Skyforce 10 Above Overturned Tanker Truck Traffic
Skyforce 10 is high above the tanker truck accident that is backing up traffic along Route 130 and Route 90. All cars are being redirected onto Route 130 North. (Published Tuesday, Feb. 24, 2015)

Strong northwest winds kept the thick smoke from rising, forcing it to stay close to the street. Still, the plume could be seen from miles away in Cherry Hill and across the river in Center City Philadelphia.

"It’s just jet black smoke. I’ve never seen so much smoke," resident Florence Panto said, panting while describing the scene. The woman suffering from emphysema was concerned about being able to smell the acrid chemical through her closed doors and windows.

"It scratches your throat and like I said I’m about six houses down, she said. "So I mean I believe we’re in a good spot, but I’m sure the people right up the street, they have to be evacuated."

Health officials warn that breathing in fumes or smoke from fuel fires is extremely dangerous. Smoke irritates eyes, nose and throat, which can make breathing much more difficult. It can also lead to chronic health issues.

Thirty homes near the crash were evacuated as a safety precaution. The residents were allowed back inside after the area was deemed safe around 5:30 p.m.

A staff member at Crescent Hill Academy — less than half a mile from the scene, but the closest school — said while they were not in danger, a few parents had come to pick up their kids.

Concerned the burning gasoline could be washed into storm drains, firefighters waited for a hazmat crew to arrive with special flame-retardant foam to smother the fire.

By 12:20 p.m., the fire was knocked back. All that remained was a shell of charred steel and rubber.

Thick Smoke Billows from Burning Tanker

[PHI] Thick Smoke Billows from Burning Tanker
Thick, black smoke from the tanker fire on the Route 90 on-ramp to Route 130 in Pennsauken is wafting into an adjacent neighborhood. (Published Monday, Feb. 23, 2015)

Route 90 east is closed to Route 73. The Route 90 east ramp to 130 north and south is also closed. The local access exit to 130 north is open however. Drivers in the area are advised to follow the Hilton Road(130N) detour.

Two hundred gallons of gasoline remained after the fire. The gasoline was transferred to another tanker and removed after the site cooled. Hazmat teams contained the spill and officials are currently cleaning up the site. Air quality monitors are also in place and working in the community. The U.S. Coast Guard is also monitoring the incident while the Camden County Health Department and Pennsauken Fire Department set up a command center.

The Delaware River Port Authority is also investigating the crash.


Contact Vince Lattanzio at 610.668.5532, vince.lattanzio@nbcuni.com or follow @VinceLattanzio on Twitter and Facebook.