UPDATE: I-95 in Connecticut will close for days after fiery crash damages bridge, governor says

This photo, courtesy of the Norwalk, Connecticut Police Department, shows the tanker truck that crashed and burned on I-95 early Thursday, May 2, 2024 forcing the indefinite closure of the interstate

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — The major traffic artery linking New England with New York will be closed in Connecticut for days after a tanker fire damaged a bridge over Interstate 95, Gov. Ned Lamont said Thursday.

The tanker truck filled with gasoline burst into flames in a three-vehicle crash Thursday on I-95 in southwest Connecticut, closing the East Coast’s main north-south highway and causing major traffic jams. While Lamont said there were no serious injuries in the 5:30 a.m. accident in Norwalk, the crash caused damage to the bridge above it.

“The heat from the burning fuel compromised some of the bridge, so that bridge is going to have to come down and that demolition is going to start first thing tomorrow morning,” Lamont said at a briefing Thursday evening.

He said the hope is to reopen the interstate by Monday morning.

“This bridge is less than 10 years old and, you know, but the damage was pretty severe due to the amount of gasoline that was in the tanker ignited directly underneath the bridge structure,” Connecticut Department of Transportation Commissioner Garrett Eucalitto said. “The steel did begin to overheat and warp.”

The tanker had been carrying a load of about 8,500 gallons (about 32,000 liters) when it crashed, officials said.

Text alerts were sent to residents of Connecticut, New York and New Jersey and trucking companies who use the route were notified to find alternative routes and means of travel, he said. U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg also was notified.

“I know what an incredible inconvenience this is for people and all I can ask you to do is stay away from that area as best you can,” Lamont said during an earlier briefing in Hartford. “The traffic jams are horrendous.”

Traffic was backed up for dozens of miles (kilometers) during the morning rush hour and the crash left other highways and secondary roads in gridlock. The major alternate route in the area, the Merritt Parkway, cannot be used by trucks because the underpasses on that highway are too low. Slow moving detours were set up, taking traffic off the highway and around the accident scene.

The accident was reminiscent of last year’s deadly accident in Philadelphia along I-95 when a tractor-trailer carrying gasoline lost control and caught fire, destroying a section of the highway.

Thursday’s accident occurred under the Fairfield Avenue bridge. While damaged, the overpass did not appear in danger of collapsing, said Scott Hill, chief engineer for the Connecticut Department of Transportation.

Utility crews were working to replace downed wires and crews also needed to offload about 3,000 gallons (about 11,400 liters) of gasoline that remained on the tanker.

Environmental crews were also working to clean up gasoline and firefighting foam. The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection said the runoff was contained to a retention pond and did not make it into the Norwalk River.

The crash came just over a year after a similar wreck on I-95 in Connecticut that forced the closure of the highway.

In April 2023, another fuel truck caught fire after colliding with a stopped car on the Gold Star Memorial Bridge between New London and Groton. The fuel truck driver was killed. The crash shut down the southbound side of the bridge for hours, while the northbound side was closed briefly. The driver of the car was recently charged with negligent homicide.

This story has been updated