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Tanker flips over, ignites on BQE

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The heat from the fire quickly brought down steel and wood beams that made up part of a temporary bridge over the roadway, which collapsed on top of the flaming truck, investigators said. Firefighters on cranes sprayed foam onto the truck, which continued to burn for 2 1/2 hours.There were no injuries among the 106 Fire Department responders to the blaze, and the driver of the truck, whose name had not been released as of Tuesday night, suffered only minor scrapes, authorities said. They said he escaped from the truck just after it tipped over.The cause of the accident, which halted service on the No. 7 line , remained under investigation Tuesday, police said. The accident led to diversions from the highway onto surface roads, tying up traffic in the area of the accident.The driver of the ExxonMobil tanker was en route to deliver fuel after filling up at a Brooklyn terminal, a spokeswoman for the company said.Residents said they heard a series of explosions and then saw the column of fire shooting up from the burning truck body. The flames rose as high as the No. 7 train tracks running above Roosevelt Avenue, said Sally Tamay, 50, who lives about a block from the accident.Service on the No. 7 train was suspended for about four hours, resuming service just after 4 p.m., a spokesman for New York City Transit said. Service was halted again for about 30 minutes after a small fire broke out at 8:45 p.m. Monday, he said.Tamay said the heat from the fire and the smoke prohibited her from seeing the immediate aftermath of the spill as she joined other residents standing at a railing on 38th Avenue overlooking the highway."There was so much smoke, you couldn't get near it," she said.Her 17-year-old daughter Pamela was in her room when she first heard the explosions."I heard the bang and boom," she said, but ignored it, thinking it was more of the long-term reconstruction of the roadway. "But it kept happening and I looked out the window and saw a huge flame rising up."Houses and businesses were briefly evacuated from the surrounding areas, residents said.The area has been under construction for months as part of the BQE rehabilitation project. It was for part of that project that a temporary bridge was being constructed just north of Roosevelt Avenue, so that the street could be upgraded, authorities said.State Department of Transportation spokeswoman Lisa Kuhner said the temporary bridge had been built over approximately the past two months, with a scheduled completions date in mid-February. She said it was too early to say how long a delay would be.Another neighbor noted that because of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday there were few workers at the site."It was good luck because there were no construction workers today," said Mian Mohammed, 51, who lives about two blocks from the accident site.Structural engineers from New York City Transit conducted an inspection of the No. 7 train line near the fire and determined that the structure there was not affected, spokesman James Anyansi said.Another fire began around 8:45 p.m. as workers were cutting steel with a torch in an effort to clear the debris, emergency management officials said, which caused sparks that ignited vapors and a pool of fuel. The fire was quickly extinguished, they said.The westbound lanes of the BQE were put back in service by 4:30 a.m. Tuesday and one lane of the eastbound lane was reopened at 5 a.m., a spokesman for the city's Office of Emergency Management said. 12 hours later all lanes were clear. Workers Tuesday repaired a patch of the highway roadway damaged by the fire, he said.Reach reporter Adam Pincus by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.

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