A fuel tanker collided with a truck at around 1 p.m. Friday in Cudjoe Key, ground zero for Hurricane Irma’s destruction, causing the Overseas Highway to completely shut down for three hours in both directions.
Monroe County Fire Rescue worked for more than three hours to clear the accident — an apparent head-on collision between a fuel tanker going northbound and a utility line truck — on the Overseas Highway near Blimp Road, around mile marker 21. As of rush hour, traffic was backed up about five miles in each direction on the two-lane highway, Fire Rescue said. Around 4 p.m., crews opened one lane of the highway, alternating northbound and southbound traffic onto that lane.
The driver of one of the vehicles was transported to the Lower Keys Medical Center. The driver of the other truck did not require hospitalization.
Crews worked to contain the tanker’s load of 3,400 gallons of highly flammable unleaded fuel and 1,500 gallons of diesel. Officials from the EPA were on hand to survey the situation.
A significant amount of fuel spilled onto the road and into the mangroves; the exact amount is not known, Fire Rescue said. Fire rescue crews sprayed foam and secured the area. A safety officer is currently on scene. Crews are awaiting tow vehicles to remove the tanker and a transfer truck that can have the remaining fuel pumped into it for safe transport.
Monroe County Fire Rescue Chief James Callahan advised motorists in the area to be patient. “Crews are working to clear the road, but it will take awhile,” he said.
Last month, Cudjoe Key, a small community of about 1,700 people in the Florida Keys, was walloped by the Category 4 Hurricane Irma. The hurricane made landfall on Cudjoe Key.