Fuel tanker collides with utility truck in the Keys, snarling traffic for hours

1 Fort Lauderdale

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A fuel tanker collided with a truck at around 1 p.m. Friday in Cudjoe Key, causing traffic on mile marker 21 on the Overseas Highway to completely shut down for hours.

Monroe County Fire Rescue worked for more than three hours to clear the accident — an apparent head-on collision between a fuel tanker going northbound and a line truck — on the Overseas Highway near Blimp Road. Traffic now alternating on U.S. 1 at scene of accident. But backup is about five miles in each direction, officials said.

The driver of one of the vehicles was transported to the Lower Keys Medical Center. The driver of the other truck did not require hospitalization.

The Overseas Highway was closed in both directions as crews worked to safely deal with the tanker’s load of 3,400 gallons of highly flammable unleaded fuel and 1,500 gallons of diesel. Alternating traffic was opened up to motorists around 4 p.m.

A significant amount of fuel spilled onto the road and into the mangroves; the exact amount is not known. Fire rescue crews sprayed foam and secured the area. A safety officer is currently on scene. Crews are awaiting tow vehicles to remove the tanker and a transfer truck that can have the remaining fuel pumped into it for safe transport.

Monroe County Fire Rescue Chief James Callahan advised motorists in the area to be patient. “Crews are working to clear the road, but it will take awhile,” he said.

The Environmental Protection Agency and other pertinent agencies have been notified.

Last month, Cudjoe Key, a small community of about 1,700 people in the Florida Keys, was walloped by Hurricane Irma as a category 4.

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