Fuel tanker overturns on Lamar Avenue

A tanker truck carrying gasoline overturned on Lamar Avenue near Pleasant Hill at 8:30 Friday morning, spilling gasoline into the road and stopping traffic.

Traffic in the southbound lane of Lamar was slow for hours. Firefighters said it was a potentially deadly situation.

After the accident, the truck laid on the road with a big hole in it's side. Traffic lights near the scene of the wreck were hanging by one cable instead of two. Investigators said this was evidence the tanker, carrying thousands of gallons of gasoline, flipped up in the air while it jack-knifed.

Motorists in the area said it was a scary sight.

"I was about 5 cars behind," said driver Davari Millender, "I saw the light starting to turn read and I seen him slam on his breaks, and I guess it jack-knifed."

Millender said people jumped out of their cars to help the driver of the truck.

"I seen the fluid coming out of the tanker," he said. "I seen a couple of more fellow truckers running over to give aid to the man, pulling him out."

Meanwhile, hundreds of gallons of gasoline were spilling out of the truck. Firefighters told nearby motorists to turn off their engines. As a precautionary measure, MLG&W crews turned the power off to the area.

Officials were forced to reroute traffic in a half-mile radius around the accident. Firefighters sprayed a light water foam on the tanker, trying to prevent an explosion.

"We try to make sure that there's no kind of source around that could set this gasoline," said Chief Henry Posey, of the Memphis Fire Department. "It is volatile and the flash point on it is conducive to this type of weather. To reach that flash point is where it could go off."

Late in the afternoon, another tanker showed up to siphon off the 6,500 to 7,500 gallons of gasoline left in the tanker.

The driver of the wrecked tanker was taken to the Med in non-critical condition.