DELAWARE COUNTY, Ohio — U.S. 23 reopened in Delaware County hours after a semi carrying hydrogen fuel exploded on the road.
The Delaware County Sheriff's Office says it happened around 2:30 p.m. on Monday after a two-vehicle crash involving that semi.
ODOT said the traffic light at the crash site near Gooding Boulevard and Orange Point Drive was completely burned, and it will likely be weeks before it is replaced.
According to the Ohio State Highway Patrol, a car collided with the truck in an intersection. Officials said the truck was carrying 420 kilograms of hydrogen. The hydrogen tanks in the trailer of the truck ignited and it caught fire, which damaged nearby traffic signals and utility lines.
Crews were responding to another call when they saw the fire, Orange Township Fire Chief Nathan McNeil said. The explosion happened about 30 seconds after the crash.
McNeil said hydrogen burns nearly clear and someone from the company that owns the truck is using a thermal imaging camera to make sure the crash site is safe and not currently burning.
"They are going through with a thermal engine camera to make sure the temperatures are low," McNeil said. "They are taking a look at the tanks, making sure there is no possibility that another fire could start."
"Explosion after explosion after explosion and it just didn’t stop," witness Alex Barry said.
Barry was at work when he heard the crash.
"I saw the crash, it happened so quick that you think nothing of it," Barry said. "It wasn’t until about a minute later when you heard the explosion. Everything went up in flames. There were balls of flames going up into the air and loud whistling noise."
That was when Barry said he took out his phone and started recording.
"Everyone was out there, face to the glass like oh my gosh, in shock," he said. "You can’t help but to watch. If you aren’t helping, you’re watching. I am nervous for the people involved and hope that everybody got out safe and no one was still stuck in those flames."
The two occupants of the truck were transported to Mount Carmel Lewis Center with minor injuries, while the driver of the other car was taken to Riverside Methodist Hospital with minor injuries.
Until the traffic light is replaced, two lanes of U.S. 23 will be maintained in each direction, and through traffic will not stop at the intersection, ODOT said. Left turns from U.S. 23 will not be permitted. U.S. 23 traffic will only be able to turn right or continue straight.
Traffic on Gooding Blvd. can only turn right onto U.S. 23 southbound, and traffic on Orange Point Dr. can only turn right onto U.S. 23 northbound.