Propane Tank Truck Fire Shuts Down Interstate 20 in Arlington

A propane tank truck fire that closed both directions of Interstate 20 in Arlington Friday morning  is out, more than 24 hours later.

Just after 10 a.m. Saturday, the Arlington Fire Department tweeted that the fire was "terminated" and that all lanes, both westbound and eastbound, had reopened.

Arlington Police said a car collided with the truck at about 6:20 a.m. on I-20 near Bowman Springs Road.

The truck rolled on its side, causing a leak to form and eventually the propane began burning. A third car hit the first two vehicles.

“We’re still working out the series of events but happily all three drivers are OK,” said Arlington Police Sgt. Jeff Houston.

After the drivers escaped, police and firefighters backed away from the fire for their own safety.

Firefighters used unmanned hoses to cool the propane tank to keep it from exploding and used a robot to observe the flames as they let the fire burn itself out. Firefighters estimated the 3,000 gallon propane tank could burn through the night, making it impossible to clear the road until Saturday morning.

The biggest problem was for drivers detoured off the normally busy interstate highway.

Cross-country trucks wound up on narrow roads heading to residential areas.

“There’s nowhere really to go, not for a truck,” said resident Tim Whitworth.

He said it was the worst detoured traffic he’d ever seen from I-20.

Garland pharmaceutical delivery driver Forest Denman was blocked trying to travel westbound on I-20.

“I’m trying to deliver some medicine to a nursing home in Southwest Fort Worth. I can’t get there,” he said.

Neighbors were initially told to leave apartments on the south side of the freeway and homes on the north but later they were allowed to return.

“We’re not so much evacuating, but we’re warning people, advising them of the hazard,” said Arlington Fire Department Lt. Lee Tovar.

Neighbor Susan Paton said she and her children could see the flames from the windows of their home Friday morning.

Daughter Alexis Paton said she could see the flashing fire truck lights shining on her bedroom wall.

“It scared me, like it was going to burn down the house,” she said.

Her mom heeded the firefighters' warning to evacuate but the family returned later when officials said it was safe so they could celebrate son JR Paton’s ninth birthday.

“We came back. It’s his birthday so we wanted to spend a little of it here while we can,” Susan Paton said.

Police urged drivers to use Pioneer Parkway, Division Street or Interstate 30 as alternate routes while the road remained closed.

NBC 5's Ken Kalthoff, Scott Gordon and Holley Ford contributed to this report.

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