Van went up wrong ramp on freeway and was hit head-on by tractor-trailer
photo by CFD
Back to back hazmat spills blocked I-24 on Wednesday night.
The first incident involved a chemical spill involving organic peroxide at the Germantown Road exit. Once emergency crews cleared that scene, they were called to a wreck at 8 p.m. on I-24 Westbound at the 4th Avenue exit after a van collided with a tractor trailer transporting industrial floor cleaner.
That prompted another hazmat response and forced the temporary closure of the interstate in both directions.
Fire officials said it appears that a Chevy Astro van came up the wrong way on the 4th Avenue exit ramp and pulled in front of the tractor trailer, causing a head-on collision. Due to the driver being pinned in the vehicle and their position in the wreckage, firefighters performed a complicated extrication operation. The driver was cut out of the mangled car by firefighters and then transported to the hospital with serious injuries.
His condition is unknown at this time. He was the only person inside the van. The driver of the tractor trailer was transported to the hospital with leg pain.
A small leak was coming from the tractor trailer of a product called ZEP, which is a floor stripping material. A private environmental company was handling the cleanup.
Afterward, I-24 East reopened for traffic by 10 p.m. Traffic on I-24 Westbound was being diverted down the off-ramp and back up the on-ramp to take traffic around the wreck site for the time being as law enforcement authorities conducted their investigation.
In the earlier incident around 4 p.m. at Germantown Road, multiple agencies were called to work a hazmat situation in East Ridge, causing a freeway shutdown and evacuation of nearby residences. Both sides of I-24 at Germantown Road were shut down for over three hours as the cleanup continued. I-24 Westbound was reopened shortly after 7 p.m.
As of 7:35 p.m., evacuated residents were told it was safe to return to their homes.
Areas evacuated by East Ridge first responders included:
Gleason Drive to Navajo Drive
Maple Lane to Bonnie Lassie
Anderson Avenue from Germantown to Norma Drive
Homes on Frawley Street, Alice Drive and Broughton Street have been evacuated.
Sections of Donaldson Road are closed.
A FedEx box truck had hazardous materials onboard that were leaking on the Germantown off-ramp from I-24 East.
The driver of the truck was not injured. There were no other injuries to report at this time.
A full hazmat response was underway by the CFD at the request of East Ridge FD, who has incident command. Firefighters were working to determine what the hazardous substances are and how to mitigate the situation.
A report from the Chattanooga Fire Department said,
"Stabilization of hazardous cargo is underway on Interstate 24 Eastbound following an organic peroxide spill in East Ridge. At 4 p.m. on Wednesday, fire and police responded to a hazmat incident on the Germantown Road off-ramp from I-24 East. A motorist spotted a FedEx tractor trailer with fluid leaking out of the back of the truck and called 911.
"The interstate was shut down in both directions and homes in a 1,000 foot radius were evacuated as a precaution. The truck had a mixed load with other chemicals being transported on the trailer, but those containers were not impaired. The organic peroxide tote had a pinhole leak, prompting a full hazmat response involving multiple agencies.
"Firefighters suited up and made entry into the trailer to assess the leak. Marion Environmental then responded to the scene to begin securing and off-loading the leaking product. They are putting the chemical into a new tote for further transport. They will be conducting further cleanup at the site. Thirty-eight homes and one small apartment complex were evacuated as a precautionary measure.
"Residents went to the Brainerd Rec Center, staffed by the American Red Cross. There are no injuries to report at this time.
"At 7 p.m. I-24 Westbound lanes reopened for traffic. Fire officials are working diligently to have I-24 East reopened as soon as possible."
Driver is extricated from vehicle
photo by CFD