UPDATE: I-65S near Seymour back open after semi crash, chemical fire
SEYMOUR, IN (WAVE) - Road repairs will be needed to Interstate 65 southbound after a chemical fire in a semi-truck Wednesday.
The initial fiery crash involving three semis, that shut down all lanes of Interstate 65 in Jackson County, Indiana, was reported in the southbound lanes of I-65 around 6:30 a.m. Wednesday, according to Sgt. Stephan Wheeles of the Indiana State Police Versailles post.
All homes within a half-mile of the crash were evacuated.
Wheeles said a semi driver was not paying attention and hit the rear of a second semi, which caused the second semi to hit a third semi.
One of the semis was hauling hazardous material, which led to the chemical fire.
Harry Maginity with the Indiana Department of Transportation said there was severe damage to the pavement caused by the extreme heat of the fire. Much of the pavement along the right lane, shoulder and part of the left lane were heavily damaged.
After the burned out damage was cleared away, IN DOT crews were able to assess the damage to the roads. Crews will begin milling to the pavement Wednesday evening, beginning repairs that will allow Interstate 65 southbound to reopen. The interstate there was closed for hours following the Wednesday crash.
I-65 southbound reopened for drivers just after 9 p.m. Wednesday. Further repairs to the asphalt will be needed, Maginity said, but they will need to wait until the temperatures warm up.
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Sgt. Wheeles with Indiana State Police said it appears that multiple hazardous chemicals being transported by one of the semis in the crash had a reaction when mixed together, causing the fire. Because of the chemical fire, ISP and responders decided to let the fire burn out instead of putting water on it. Wheeles said crews were concerned that adding water could cause a reaction that could make the situation worse.
"The crews have made the determination that the best course of action at this point is to let it burn itself out," Wheeles said. "They believe that spraying water or trying to contain it at this point is going to cause more problems. So that's kind of what we're waiting on."
Crews began to back off, even asking people nearby to evacuate.
"We also made the decision to evacuate the houses that are nearby to that scene," Wheeles said. "Our officers went to those houses and made contact with those individuals, telling them about the situation and then giving them the option to leave which they then complied with."
Police are still investigating the crash. ISP said they have yet to determine what if any charges will be brought against the driver that caused the crash Wednesday.
A passenger in the rear semi was injured. Wheeles said the person's injuries appeared to be minor.
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