Truck Shuts Down Bridge in New York City After Catching Fire, Exploding

Monday, 08 Apr 2013 11:33 AM

By Jerry Shaw

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A fiery truck explosion closed a busy New York City bridge on Sunday evening, stopping traffic between Manhattan and the borough of Queens for several hours.

An oxygen tank in the back of the truck exploded after the vehicle's engine caught fire, causing the truck to burst into flames near the Manhattan entrance ramp of the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge just before 7 p.m.

No injuries were reported, but traffic was backed up for hours as Queens-bound drivers were stuck on the bridge's upper and lower levels before more than 40 firefighters finally extinguished the blaze.

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“I just gave up. I just parked it literally over that,” one driver, Terry Vasiliadis, told CBS News.

The driver of the truck jumped from the vehicle and escaped the fire and heat by climbing a bridge barrier.

Smoke could be seen rising from both sides of the East River. Witnesses described intense flames and thick black smoke rising near the bridge, as well as hearing loud booming sounds.

The explosion “sounded like a giant thunder clap, but twice as loud,” according to Jim Holtie, 47, who lives nearby and said he jumped from his chair.

The truck was carrying oxygen and nitrogen tanks. One of two large oxygen tanks exploded as the engine fire quickly spread, fire officials said.

Descriptions and photos of the fire and rising smoke were posted on Twitter. Some images showed traffic stopped in surrounding areas as motorists watched the fire.

City alerts on Twitter notified drivers to prepare for long delays.

Witnesses also tweeted warnings that all of the bridges lanes were closed, with one describing the scene as “acrid.”

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Only minutes before, tweets were describing the beauty of the lights from the Queensboro Bridge and the city.

Traffic resumed in both directions after the fire was extinguished. The Monday morning commute wasn't affected.

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