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Gas tanker crashes, explodes into fireball on I-15 in Utah County

SPANISH FORK — A tanker explosion and the ensuing fire shut down I-15 near the U.S. 6 off-ramp Friday.

"(I) just saw this massive plume, like a mushroom. … My first inclination was like a bomb or something went off," said one motorist who witnessed the accident aftermath shortly after the crash.

Other motorists rushed to the burning tanker and reportedly pulled the 28-year-old driver, from Colorado, out of the vehicle. The man, whose name was not immediately released, was flown by medical helicopter to the Intermountain Burn Center in critical condition, according to the Utah Highway Patrol.

About 2:20 p.m., a tanker hauling approximately 8,500 gallons of gasoline was trying to go from southbound I-15 to eastbound U.S. 6 when the vehicle went off the left side of the ramp for an unknown reason, down the embankment, crashed and exploded, according to the Utah Highway Patrol.

The freeway was closed in both directions as fire and medical crews responded. A huge plume of black smoke from the burning tanker could be seen for miles.

When the fire was put out, emergency crews found about 1,500 gallons of unburned fuel still in the tanker, according to the UHP.

Although I-15 reopened a couple of hours later, the off-ramp was expected to remained closed though Friday evening.

The cause of the crash remained under investigation Friday.

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