I-5 in Fife reopens after semi tanker crash

FIFE, Wash. — Both directions of I-5 closed for hours in Fife by an overturned semi tanker that is leaking fuel on the Port of Tacoma Road onramp to northbound I-5.

Key developments: 

  • The crash happened about 9:20 a.m. Thursday.
  • The closure ran for hours between 54th in Fife to Portland Avenue in Tacoma.  
  • Gasoline appeared to be leaking from the semi.
  • The Fire Dept. evacuated nearby buildings.
  • Photos of the semi crash here.

The tanker was hauling 7,700 gallons of fuel, some of which spilled in the crash. The truck was approaching Interstate 5 when it flipped, closing the four-lane freeway in both directions.

It reopened shortly after noon.

The driver wasn't hurt. Authorities had evacuated buildings within a half-mile radius of the scene.

"There’s a potential that it could ignite,” said Trooper Andrew Stoeckle.

The driver was unhurt in the crash. He remained at the scene and was questioned by state troopers.

Below is a timeline of events as the crash unfolded. 

[12:42 p.m.]

Back-up could last for hours after the I-5 closure in Fife.

Some minor closures remain:

  • Northbound I-5 exit 136 A & B to Port of Tacoma Road and 20th Street East remains closed to traffic.
  • Southbound I-5 exit 136 remains open to Port of Tacoma Road. Left turns are prohibited towards 20th Street East.
  • 20th Street East remains closed.

[12:27 p.m.]

Northbound lanes open, but the cleanup and investigation continues.

[12:12 p.m.] 

Interstate 5 southbound reopens in Fife. Northbound is planned to open shortly.

[12:01 p.m.]

The driver was making a left-hand turn when he overturned. The investigation continues, but Interstate 5 in Fife should reopen soon.

[11:42 a.m.]

The crash has brought traffic to a standstill for miles along interstate 5. The overturned tanker spilled more than 7,000 gallons of gasoline into bone dry grass.

[11:15 a.m.]

[11:02 a.m.]

Tacoma Fire Department says that about 7,700 gallons of gasoline have been divided in two smaller tanks. Crews are working on containment.

Washington Department of Ecology remains on scene.

[10:40 a.m.]

Several miles of back up is building on Interstate 5 near Fife and Tacoma.

Washington State Patrol says a pump is on the way to the scene.

No timeframe is in place for clearing the scene or reopening I-5. The large volume of leaked fuel will take time to clean up safely.

Drivers should use State Route 512 and 167.

[10:28 a.m.]

KIRO 7 News reporter Kevin McCarty is hearing that a half-mile radius around the tanker is being evacuated.

Officials have no provided a headcount of those evacuated.

Traffic detours are in place.

It is not known when the freeway and ramps will reopen.

[10:05 a.m.]  

Though the semi is overturned on an onramp, I-5 is closed for safety reasons because the tanker is loaded with fuel.

On and off ramps to I-5 in the area are also closed as well as the Port of Tacoma Road at Pacific Avenue and 20th Street.

The tanker is believed to be carrying diesel and Tacoma fire said fuel is leaking.

The Department of Ecology and a hazmat team are responding.

[9:51 a.m.]

Crews investigate the extent of the fuel leak.

[9:37 a.m.] 

NB I-5 Port of Tacoma Road exits are closed after a rollover crash.