Tanker crash turns Boston highway into a fiery inferno

A freshly loaded tanker truck crashed and exploded in Saugus, MA, just north of Boston early Saturday morning, killing the truck driver and creating a 50-ft. high fireball that caused the evacuation of hundreds of people in the area.

A freshly loaded tanker truck crashed and exploded in Saugus, MA, just north of Boston early Saturday morning, killing the truck driver and creating a 50-ft. high fireball that caused the evacuation of hundreds of people in the area.

Neal Michaud, 59, of Manchester, NH, was trapped in his cab when he lost control of the tanker truck, which hit a guardrail and rolled over through a median on Highway 1 in Saugus, according to the Boston Globe. Six cars crashed into the flaming truck, which leaked its load causing a fire that injured four motorists.

More than 120 residents of the area had to be evacuated when a second fireball exploded in a nearby creek where fuel from the crash had pooled. The second explosion came about 45 minutes after the crash and shook the town, spreading burning embers across the neighborhood, setting fire to two greenhouse buildings, a house, fences, and several patches of brush, Fire Chief James L. Blanchard told the Globe. “Lights were shaking from the ceilings of homes, and people woke up to see flames in the back of their house,’’ Blanchard said.

The Saugus Fire Department called out an eight-alarm response. Fire crews from Boston, Revere, Chelsea, Woburn, Somerville, Belmont, Cambridge, Lynn, Lynnfield, Burlington, Danvers, Stoneham, Malden, Winchester, Medford, Wakefield, Everett, and Winthrop responded, the Globe reported.

“We had to get foam in there, and we needed lots of it,’’ Blanchard said. “Without foam, there’s no hope of controlling the fire.’’

The tanker truck was owned by PJ Murphy Transportation of Methuen, NH. State police said the company has a sound safety record. “Our commercial vehicle team has had interactions with the company in a positive manner. They have a very good safety record,” said David Procopio, a state police spokesman.

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