Iowa town evacuated after petroleum truck explodes

Reuters News
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Posted: Jul 08, 2011 3:09 PM
Iowa town evacuated after petroleum truck explodes

By Kay Henderson

DES MOINES, Iowa (Reuters) - The small town of Blakesburg, Iowa was evacuated on Friday morning after a petroleum tanker truck exploded just outside of town, sending a plume of smoke so large that fire crews were not immediately able to get to the scene.

A reporter for KBIZ radio at the scene said people in a quarter-mile radius around the blast site in the town of 300 people were evacuated. They were allowed back into their homes by midday.

The driver of the truck was injured and taken from the scene but no other injuries were reported.

Nearly two hours after the initial explosion there were three additional blasts. The fire has since been knocked down, according to Ottumwa Fire Chief Tony Miller.

"This is the worst thing I've ever seen," said Bill Hopkins, who lives across the street from the explosion site. He said if a nearby grain elevator had caught fire, "the whole town could have been leveled out."

He evacuated his house after calling 911.

(Reporting by Kay Henderson; Writing by Greg McCune; Editing by Mary Wisniewski and Cynthia Johnston)