Interstate 95 overpass collapses in Philadelphia after vehicle fire


PHILADELPHIA (AP) — An elevated section of Interstate 95 collapsed in Philadelphia early Sunday after a vehicle caught fire, shutting down the East Coast’s main north-south freeway and halting traffic in parts of the densely populated Northeast , the authorities said.

Initial reports suggested the vehicle might have been a tanker truck, but officials were unable to immediately confirm this. The fire was reported to be under control.

Video from the scene of the accident showed that in northeast Philadelphia, a massive slab of concrete had fallen from I-95 onto the street below. There were no immediate reports of injuries.

Capt. Derek Bowmer of the Philadelphia Fire Department said northbound lanes of I-95 were closed due to the heat of the fire and southbound lanes were “impaired.” He also said drains from the fire or possibly damaged gas lines caused explosions underground.

Mark Fusetti, a retired Philadelphia police sergeant, said he was on his way south to the city’s airport when he noticed thick plumes of black smoke billowing over the freeway. As he passed the fire, the road below began to “sink,” resulting in a noticeable dip that could be seen in video he captured of the scene, he said.

In the rearview mirror he saw the traffic come to a standstill. Soon after, the lanes of the northbound freeway collapsed.

“It was crazy timing,” Fusetti said. “That it buckles and collapses so quickly is quite remarkable.”

Officials were also concerned about the environmental impact of the runoff into the nearby Delaware River.

“Today will be a long day. And of course, with northbound 95 gone and southbound in question, it’s going to take even longer,” said Dominick Mireles, director of the Office of Emergency Management in Philadelphia.

Heavy construction equipment will be required to begin removing the debris, he said.

The emergency management office said other roads were closed and urged people to avoid the area. Officials planned to launch a drone to assess the damage.

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