I-65 wreck timeline



4:37 a.m.: A wreck involving three semitrailers was reported in the southbound lanes of Interstate 65 at the 43-mile-marker just north of Uniontown. Hazardous chemicals were leaking from a semitrailer. Two semitrailers were being removed from the scene, and an environmental company was en route to clean up the spill. No life-threatening injuries were reported, but one person had some injuries.

5:31 a.m.: With the lanes closed, southbound traffic was diverted at U.S. 50 (Exit 50) in Seymour to take U.S. 31 south to State Road 250 in Uniontown and return to the interstate. Police said it would be a lengthy closure.

5:45 a.m.: Hazardous materials crews arrived at the scene.

8:59 a.m.: Indiana Department of Environment Management officials arrived at the chemical spill. Initial estimates were the interstate would be closed about five hours.

9:53 a.m.: Police prepared to open the left lane of southbound I-65 at the 43-mile-marker as the cleanup began. Police said that a chemical spill after the wreck was not as bad as first thought. the right lane would remain closed for possibly four hours as the work to clean up the crash site continued.

10:57 a.m.: Complications caused by the cleanup of the wreck forced the closure of both southbound lanes of I-65 at the 43-mile-marker.

11:34 a.m.: The situation continued to deteriorate, so as a precaution, northbound lanes of I-65 were being shut down at Exit 41 in Uniontown. All houses within a half-mile of the scene also were being evacuated.

11:40 a.m.: Police said responders at the scene faced an explosion risk.

Noon: All lanes from the 41- to 50-mile-markers of I-65 were cleared of traffic and closed so cleanup could start.

12:16 p.m.: The truck that was hauling the chemicals was engulfed. A dark smoke cloud could be seen for miles. Police encouraged people to seek an alternate route of travel and said there would be extensive delays all across the area.

12:38 p.m.: Duane Davis, director of the Jackson County Emergency Management Agency, arrived on scene. There was no explosion, he said. Officials were allowing the fire to burn out. Davis did not know what kind of chemicals the truck was carrying. The Environmental Protection Agency told firefighters not to put water on the fire.

12:39 p.m.: Davis said homes within a half-mile radius were being evacuated. Few people live near the area to the west of the interstate because it is Swifty Farms, a horse farm. Davis said people were cooperating with the order to evacuate, and there was no panic.

1:05 p.m.: Authorities were knocking on doors and recommending people evacuate. It was not a mandatory evacuation, and there was no shelter set up. Officials said some people left, but one man they talked to decided to stay unless the wind shifted.

1:06 p.m.: The semi was carrying four types of hazardous materials — two corrosives, one oxidizer and one with acid. The chemicals spilled and mixed.

1:43 p.m.: Davis said he expects the evacuation to last for about four more hours. Crothersville Community Schools were notified and planned to make changes to two bus routes that go into the area. The Salvation Army also was setting up shop south of the crash scene to provide food, water and relief for firefighters, police officers and other workers.

2:25 p.m.: Police reported the chemical crash fire was burning out. All lanes of I-65 were still closed. U.S. 31 was still the alternate route.

2:30 p.m.: Officials recommended people evacuate the area because of the smoke and what it might contain from the chemicals. Davis said the smoke could cause respiratory problems. The fire severely damaged the interstate, and it will take some repairs.

3 p.m.: Northbound I-65 reopened north of the 41-mile-marker. Southbound lanes would remain closed for a lengthy time.

3:08 p.m.: The semi was still burning and probably would be burning for hours, officials said. The smoke from the fire was being monitored and evaluated by officials with the state fire marshal’s office, and they told a local official no harmful chemicals or byproducts were found. People who evacuated the area soon would be notified that they could return to their homes. There about 25 homes in the area, and many residents were not at home at the time of the fire. Davis said once the burned remains of the truck were removed from the scene, state highway crews would grind the pavement and fix the blacktop.

SOURCE: Indiana State Police; Duane Davis, director of the Jackson County Emergency Management Agency.

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