WRC
Flames are seen after a fuel tanker truck struck a guardrail as it drove onto an exit ramp of Interstate 395 near the Pentagon early Wednesday.
updated 12/22/2004 11:22:13 AM ET 2004-12-22T16:22:13

A fuel tanker truck crashed near the Pentagon early Wednesday, sparking multiple explosions that sent flames nearly 50 feet in the air and shut down a major highway for several hours overnight. The driver died in the accident, authorities said.

The truck apparently struck a guardrail as it drove onto an exit ramp of Interstate 395 about 3:40 a.m. Wednesday, according to the Virginia State Police. The intense heat charred the roadway and damaged an overpass.

“We had flames probably about 50 feet in the air,” said Capt. Tom Polera, Arlington County assistant fire marshal.

Residents who live nearby said they heard a series of explosions that reminded them of the terrorist attack on the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001.

“It sounded to me like artillery,” said John F. Moroz. “ I heard sirens less than two minutes later and I thought, ’Oh, my God, 9/11 again.”

Interstate 395 was shut down in both directions while the fire burned itself out, which took about three hours. Washington Boulevard, the site of the accident, remained closed through the morning rush hour.

© 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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