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Truck Driver Dies in Fiery Explosion on Hwy 99 Print E-mail
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Written by B|V|N Newsroom   
Tuesday, 23 May 2017 14:25

ATWATER - One man is dead following a fiery explosion on Freeway 99 in Atwater. The unidentified truck driver lost control of his tanker-truck which contained over 9000 gallons of gasoline as he exited the freeway.

The Applegate exit on the south-bound side of Freeway 99 is a sharp 45 degree right-hand turn, which the driver failed to negotiate. The truck turned over onto it's side emptying the 9000 gallons of fuel on to the roadway threatening several restaurants and an AMPM Gas Station as it ignited.

The huge fireball could be scene as far away as the former Castle Air Force base. While no one else was hurt in the accident, chaos broke out as people tried to get out of the way of the waves of fiery fuel traveling down the street, away from the accident. Several buildings as far as a block away were damaged by the fire. People scrambled from restaurants and business as the wall of fire expanded to a city block.

The 2008 Peterbilt truck was carrying a full load of gasoline on a delivery to the AMPM Gas Station on Bell Lane, across the street from the explosion.  According to Officer Eric Zuniga of the California Highway Patrol, the driver of a tanker truck was found dead inside the truck.

The long term effects of the crash could wide-ranging, officials said. There are reports of gas leaks in the area of the crash and city leaders fear it could be several days before businesses in the area are allowed to reopen.

Freeway 99 was reopen as of 12:15 p.m., but the exit off Bell Lane remains closed.



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