Overturned Semitruck Carrying Butane Causes Major Delays Through Lehi
LEHI, Utah – A semitruck rollover with a load of butane caused the closure of a portion of I-15 between Utah and Salt Lake counties most of the day Saturday, and caused major traffic delays.
The rollover happened around 10:30 a.m. and witness video shows people, including a doctor, rush to the semitruck to help get the driver out of harm’s way.
“He looked dazed. We got him off the truck and asked him what was in the truck. He said about 12,500 gallons of liquefied petroleum,” Ben Burdge explained.
“It was a semi with two tankers, with doubles full of butane. For an unknown reason it rolled and one of the tankers lodged itself on top of the concrete barrier on the right. The other one is on its side, kind of in the middle of traffic,” said Utah High Patrol Sgt. Brady Zaugg.
With the semi spread across the northbound lanes of traffic, 1-15 near mile markers 281 – 282 quickly came to a stand-still.
“It is a pretty significant thing when a semi with doubles manages to catapult one of them onto the concrete barrier all the way on the right side while the other is still in traffic,” said Zaugg.
Around 11 a.m., troopers closed southbound I-15 between 14600 and the Lehi Main exit 279 when they detected a leak in the cargo. Northbound was also closed between the Lehi Main exit 279 to State Route 92.
“Thankfully it was a very, very small leak of about five gallons per hour,” said Zaugg. He said they don’t anticipate a major environmental impact from the leak.
An evacuation order also went into effect in Lehi.
“It’s a quarter mile radius around the accident. We have evacuated some homes and those people who have been relocated to a church house at 700 west 2630 north,” said Lehi City Assistant City Administrator Cameron Boyle.
Boyle said Lehi City officers, including their volunteer force, were assisting with the traffic control as drivers were rerouted. Lehi City firefighters were also some of the first to respond to the scene.
The American Red Cross, as well as members of Utah Valley University’s student led Red Cross Club, assisted 30 evacuees at the temporary evacuation center, according to Adam S. Whitaker, executive director.
The closure caused major traffic delays for drivers as they struggled to make their way around the closure.
“We were on I-15 for about three hours,” explained Alisson Weeks who was heading back home to Camp Pendleton after spending Thanksgiving with family in West Valley City.
The closure lasted as hazardous materials teams worked to offload/transfer the butane onto a new semi. Southbound I-15 reopened at about 7:45 p.m. while Northbound I-15 opened shortly after 8 p.m.
Utah Highway Patrol is investigating the cause of the accident.
“I don’t if weather was a factor. This morning I know things were melting and possibly wet, but also this is a construction zone- lots of uneven pavement surfaces, uneven travel lanes. Any number of things are possible,” said Zaugg.
Burdge says the driver was concerned about the construction and travel lanes.
“It sounded like the lanes are messed up- kind of zig zag back and forth, the lanes are peeling up everywhere. I think he was trying to stay in his lane,” said Burdge.
According to UHP, the driver suffered minor injuries and no other vehicles were involved in the accident.