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Tanker explosion kills one near Helper

Smoke rises from U.S. Highway 191 near the Western Energy Training Center as local rescue crews work to put out a reported flaming tanker truck.
A semi-trailer burns as local public safety officials work to quell the flames. The semi reportely left the road after failing to traverse a curve in Willow Creek Canyon.

By C.J. MCMANUS and Kevin Scannell
Sun Advocate reporters

Both lanes of U.S. Highway 191 were temporarily closed Thursday afternoon after a 2005 Peterbilt semi-truck hauling crude oil rolled over in Willow Creek Canyon, killing the vehicle's driver and exploding into flames.

According to Utah Highway Patrol officials, the southbound semi-truck, driven by Bryan Ames, 51, of Bluebell, went off the edge of U.S. 191 just after 1:45 p.m. at mile post 256. Ames was reported dead at the scene.

"The commercial truck was pulling two semi trailers full of crude oil and failed to negotiate a turn in the road," stated UHP officials. "The vehicle left the proper lane of travel, crossed the northbound lane and rolled down an embankment where it came to rest in the creek."

A large plume of black smoke could be seen from the junction of U.S. Highway 6 and U.S. 191 outside of Helper as the tanker's fuel burned for sometime.

UHP officials stated that the Southeastern Utah District Health Department and area HAZMAT squad were called out due to the potential of crude oil leaking into the Willow Creek.

The cause of the crash remains under investigation.

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