Tanker truck explodes

photos taken from the scene by KTVO's James Buechele


UPDATED: Monday 2:40 p.m.

KTVO spoke with Blakesburg Oil on Monday. Although the company would not release the truck driver's name, they did confirm that the driver is doing well and recovering from Friday's accident.

UPDATED: Friday 5:40 p.m.

Fire raged in the small town of Blakesburg Friday Morning.

It all started about 8:30 a.m. after a truck driver was loading or unloading fuel. All of the sudden his vehicle burst into flames.

Fire fighters across four counties responded to the blaze. Smoke could be seen miles down the road as the tanker carrying diesel fuel and gasoline sent fireballs into the sky.

We started putting water on it and then the fire got pretty good sized and we knew we were probably going to lose the tank itself, said Ottumwa fire chief Tony Miller.

As if the fire wasn TMt bad enough, other tanks just feet away held flammable fuel that could explode.

We had some gasoline and diesel tanks just to the right of the tanker that had exploded. We had anhydrous ammonia nurse tanks to the left of it and we had the fire right in the middle of it.

Mark Miller, Wapello County Chief Deputy, was concerned for the residents of Blakesburg.

The big concern was that maybe other tanks would get heated up and explode, said Mark Miller.

So officials had to act quickly. After the tanker truck exploded, law enforcement started evacuating the city. Many people went to the Blakesburg fire department station just north of town.

Shortly before noon, after nearly three hours, the fuel in the truck burned off. Firefighters were able to control the blaze. Amazingly no other fuel tanks exploded.

The tanker that caught fire was just yards away from the Blakesburg elementary school. No students were in the building at the time. Residents were allowed back to their homes later this afternoon.

The driver of the truck was taken by helicopter to Iowa University hospitals in Iowa City. His status is unknown as of Friday evening. The fire is now under investigation.

UPDATED: Friday 11:45 a.m. KTVO reporter James Buechele has been on the scene and is now reporting that the fire is apparently under control, and that the residents of Blakesburg may be able to return to their homes soon.

UPDATED: Friday 10:57 a.m.The driver of the tanker truck has been airlifted to an area hospital. It is still unknown how the fire started, but it happened as the driver was unloading fuel. It happened in an alley near Elm Street behind the school, in an area where gasoline and other fuel is unloaded.


UPDATED: Friday 10:35 a.m.The entire town of Blakesburg is being evacuated after a tanker truck caught fire at 8:30 a.m. Friday.

_____________________________UPDATED: Friday, 10:29 a.m.The tanker disintegrated from the flames and parts of the street were literally on fire. A fireball shot from the truck as it was engulfed in flames. The fire is encroaching ever closer to large fuel storage tanks. Even firefighters are being forced to evacuate the scene.


A tanker truck explosion and fire Friday morning near the elementary school in Blakesburg leads authorities to evacuate a half-mile area around the scene.The biggest concern for firefighters are several large storage tanks near the fire. The Southeast Iowa Hazmat group is trying to extinguish the fire.The driver of the tanker truck was injured, but the extent of those injuries is unknown. The driver has not been identified.Firefighters from Ottumwa, Albia, Eddyville, Blakesburg and the Wapello County Fire Departments are on the scene along with the Wapello County Sheriff's Office and the Iowa State Patrol.