A tanker truck crashed into a tree and overturned Saturday on U.S. 15 in Frederick, killing the driver and throwing flames and black smoke high into the sky.
The truck’s flammable contents spilled across the highway, and the ensuing fire destroyed one home on Apple Avenue and melted the siding on other houses. Six homes and five cars were damaged, officials said. They said there were no other injuries.
Authorities did not immediately identify the driver.
More than 100 firefighters from four counties worked to put out the flames and block the fuel from a nearby creek, Frederick officials said at a news conference.
“There is no risk to the public at this time,” Frederick County Fire Chief Tom Coe said.
Officials said they were working to contact the truck company and identify the liquid contents of the tanker. They described it as flammable and a type of fuel.
Frederick Mayor Michael O’Connor said the spill did not reach the city’s sewer system or Carroll Creek, a tributary of the Monocacy River that runs through the heart of downtown.
“We will continue to monitor the environmental effects of this incident in the coming days and weeks ahead, working very closely with MDE [the Maryland Department of the Environment],” he said.
Coe said some residue from foam used to extinguish the fire did enter the creek, but he described the foam as “environmentally friendly.”
Frederick firefighters and state police responded to the scene shortly before 1 p.m. Authorities closed U.S. 15 near Rosemont Avenue in both directions and advised everyone to stay away.
Cellphone videos posted to social media showed neighbors standing on their lawns and watching the column of roiling orange flames.
Coe said the northbound lanes of U.S. Route 15 will be closed “for an extended period of time” as crews clean up the scene and investigators work to determine the cause of the crash.
Gov. Wes Moore issued a statement saying he was in touch with leaders in Frederick and state officials following the accident.
“My heart goes out to those affected by this tragedy in Frederick,” he said. “We are continuing to monitor the situation closely.”