A full-sized petroleum tanker truck exploded just outside of downtown Blakesburg at about 8:30 this morning. The explosion site was near a local school.
People in a quarter-mile radius around the blast site were evacuated shortly after the blast; but the evacuation zone has dramatically expanded as a second explosion happened an hour after the first one and, at 10:15, there were three additional explosions.
The heat of the blaze has been so intense and the plume of smoke so large that fire crews have not been able to get to the scene to try to battle the blaze.
Mike Buchanan of KBIZ Radio is broadcasting live from the outskirts of Blakesburg and he says the town was cleared out shortly after those three, mid-morning explosions.
“There was this mad exodus of all types of emergency personnel…just a huge evacuation from the area,” Buchanan says. “As we were leavning the scene, we could see flames all over the area…Where the tanker truck was parked is also very, very close to several storage tanks that also contained fuel and so we have a very volatile situation here this morning.”
Buchanan reports the truck’s driver was injured and he was evacuated from the scene. “As we left the area, all we could see was a huge, black cloud of smoke,” Buchanan says. “It was almost like a bomb had been dropped on Blakesburg this morning.”