Tanker Explosion Kills Driver, Causes Heavy Property Damage


The Tuesday tanker truck explosion that killed the driver and caused significant property damage in Atwater, CA will have a lasting effect on the area, according to city officials.

The explosion erupted into a fuel fire and billowed smoke throughout the plaza, which includes a McDonald’s and Panda Express. Both restaurants are closed for the time being after suffering smoke and fire damage, and authorities fear nearby water lines may be contaminated by the gas spill.

The tanker was on a fuel run to the Arco ampm across the street from the restaurants, according to several media reports and the gas station’s owner.

Eyewitnesses reported seeing smoke in North Merced, more than five miles from the site. Others on the scene abandoned their cars during the blaze.

“I was running, I kind of stopped, I second guessed myself, because if I turned on the car, the fumes would have got in and I would have exploded,” Panda Express employee David Velasco told ABC30. “I’m thanking god right now, he made me stop — just leave, it’s a car, it’s materialistic,” said Velasco.”

California Highway Patrol are investigating the driver’s role in causing the accident.

“It appears the driver was maybe going a little bit too fast, took the turn too fast, collided with the concrete center median, causing it to overturn,” CHP Officer Eric Zuniga told Fox 26.

Daily Event With Deadly Potential

Fueling up gas stations is a very frequent occurrence. You’ve probably seen a fuel tanker parked at a gas station just for that purpose. Though thankfully uncommon, these tankers carry a deadly cargo. There are countless ways your safety can come into play in a massive fuel fire like this.

The nearby Panda Express and McDonald’s will remain closed until technicians inspect gas lines and repair burned electrical boxes. The explosion and fire also destroyed several cars. The gas spill may have contaminated water lines, according to a Merced County Fire Division Chief, but there are no other reported injuries.

Fires like this also have the potential to cause burns as well as property damage. Many people also discount the danger smoke can pose. Smoke inhalation plays a role in 75 percent of fire-related deaths and was solely listed as a cause of death in a startling 51 percent of all fire-related deaths, according to the National Fire Protection Association. The fuel fire billowed thick, black smoke, covering much of the surrounding area.

Exposure to smoke and fire can lead to long-term property damage or loss for local business owners, their employees, and their patrons. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Fire and smoke frequently cause severe injury or death, and gasoline-tainted water or air can lead to lasting health complications you may never recover from.

In a broad situation like this, insurance companies and businesses will scramble to limit their liability. Factors like poor road design leading to the driver’s accident, the driver’s negligence, or a poorly maintained truck can all contribute to an incident like this. A knowledgeable attorney that specializes in a variety of personal injury fields, with the manpower and experience to investigate your case, can be a powerful weapon in your quest for justice.

Right now, business owners and the city work to recover quickly. Many are thankful the accident didn’t take more lives. “I saw a big black cloud come over the store and I saw all these people running,” Arco ampm owner Kamal Dhaliwal said to Fox 26 in an interview. “It hits home because he’s your driver and he’s coming to your gasoline.”

(Note: The feature photo does not represent the actual event discussed in this piece.)

(Editor’s Note: This is a news story from the ‘Morgan Monitor,’ a news wire offering legal perspectives on news in your community.)