Truck Overturns, Explosion Closes U.S. 6
|Huge fissures surround a 75-foot wide crater. The crater was filled Thursday and ready for paving that evening. Officials initially expected repairs to take as long as four days. However, less than 48 hours after the explosion, Highway 6 reopened Friday morning around 8 a.m.|
Traffic along U.S. Highway 6 came to an abrupt stop last Wednesday at 1:54 p.m. when a truck carrying 35,000 pounds of explosives overturned and detonated.
The explosion left a crater in the road 35 feet deep and 75 feet wide.
The hole destroyed both lanes of traffic of the highway near milepost 191, located approximately four miles east of the junction with U.S. Highway 89.
In addition, the explosion caused rail lines parallel to the highway to shift.
The vehicle reportedly involved in the initial mishap was operated by R&R Trucking, based in Duenweg, Mo.
The truck apparently left Ensign-Bickford Company at the mouth of Spanish Fork Canyon at 1:10 p.m. on Aug. 10 and was on its way to Oklahoma, according to officials.
Ensign-Bickford did not release the type of explosive that was being hauled by the trailer.
The driver, a 30-year-old unidentified male, was transported to University of Utah Hospital.
Other injuries were reported and victims were transported to various hospitals in the area.
Six victims with minor injuries were taken to Castleview Hospital and later released.
|A helicopter drops water on a fire Thursday. The fire was one of approximately 30 that started after an explosion on Highway 6 on Wednseday.|
Drivers near the explosion described a shock wave that blew out windows in their cars.
The truck carrying the explosives was almost completely destroyed.
A bomb squad found unexploded ordinance among the debris. That delayed road crews and fire crews from beginning their work.
Debris from the explosion caused approximately 30 small fires in the area.
Emergency crews from Uinta National Forest worked through the weekend to extinguish the fires.
The fires were reported to be controlled and contained Monday.
"We're just making sure we didn't miss anything," said Fire Management Officer Charles Wentlender. He said crews will remain in the area to watch the area.
Repairing the road took about 350 loads carrying 4,500 tons of material and about 36 total hours. Repairing the road had originally been estimated to take as long as four day. However, as Utah Department of Transportation called in 25 maintenance workers from all over Utah County to do the hauling, that timeline was cut in half. By Thursday morning, the state transportation agency had contracted with Staker Paving to bring in the heavy equipment needed to rebuild the road.
The repair required the rebuilding of approximately 200 feet of road.
As a result of the explosion, Highway 6 was closed from Thistle to the junction with U.S. Highway 191 near Helper. Traffic was detoured either north from Helper to Duchesne and U.S. Highway 40 or south from Thistle to Fairview along Highway 89 and then over Fairview and Huntington canyons on Utah Highway 31.
By 8 a.m. Friday, the road had reopened. Estimated costs to fix the repair are between $200,000 and $400,000. UDOT said Friday that the state will seek compensation from the trucking company responsible for the incident.