I-26 eastbound reopens after acid tanker crash - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

I-26 eastbound reopens after acid tanker crash

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Crews work to clean up and assess the damage after a tanker truck crashed along I-26 in Henderson County. (April 4, 2012/FOX Carolina) Crews work to clean up and assess the damage after a tanker truck crashed along I-26 in Henderson County. (April 4, 2012/FOX Carolina)
Drivers traveling westbound along I-26 have to detour at exit 59. (April 4, 2012/FOX Carolina) Drivers traveling westbound along I-26 have to detour at exit 59. (April 4, 2012/FOX Carolina)
HENDERSONVILLE, NC (FOX Carolina) -

An overturned tractor trailer crashed Tuesday night, shutting down Interstate 26 through most of Wednesday.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation closed I-26 eastbound and westbound at the Peter Guice Memorial Bridge that crosses the Green River Gorge at mile marker 54.  Detours were set up near mile markers 53 eastbound and 59 westbound. 

The accident happened at 10:08 p.m. Troopers said the tractor trailer crashed and caught fire and then started leaking sulfuric acid. Flames were reported to have reached 50 feet high.

The tanker was driving eastbound. As of 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, the westbound lanes had reopened.

Friday night, the eastbound lanes of I-26 were reopened, after crews repaired the bridge and it passed inspection.

SLIDESHOW: Crews clean up I-26 after tanker crash

Officials said they evacuated 51 homes within a mile of the accident Tuesday night. According to dispatchers, the evacuation was lifted later Wednesday morning.

Hazardous materials teams were called in to clean up the sulfuric acid. Officials said the chemical could have caused damage to the steel on the bridge, so Department of Transportation crews will check the bridge to make sure it is structurally sound.

Sulfuric acid is a strong corrosive acid that's used to make detergents, dyes, drugs, explosives, pigments, fertilizers and other products.

According to the City of Asheville Fire Department, their crews were called to the crash to help in the cleanup.

Firefighters said the sulfuric acid mixture was leaking at a rate of approximately one gallon per minute, so they spread more than 2,000 pounds of lime to neutralize the leak.

Crews said they were able to keep the spill out of the Green River. Cleanup operations have been turned over to Hepaco Inc., a private company.

Other crews were removing any remaining product from the tanker. The highway patrol is investigating the cause of the accident.

The fire was extinguished by 7 a.m., but the bridge could be closed for days, according to dispatch.

The Red Cross opened a shelter at First Baptist Church in Hendersonville. It's located at 312 5th Ave. Red Cross officials said two families showed up to the shelter and made alternate arrangements.

Officials said the driver of the tanker was taken to the hospital, but was released Wednesday. Troopers said they will talk to him to try and find out how the wreck happened.

No word yet on if he will face charges.  Reports said a law enforcement officer was also transported with breathing difficulties, but there were no other reported injuries.

Copyright 2012 FOX Carolina (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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