Truck Hauling Hurricane Harvey Relief Supplies Crashes, 2 Dead
Two people died in a fiery crash on Wednesday evening when a truck hauling relief supplies for victims of Hurricane Harvey collided head-on with a small car.
The crash was reported at 6:10 p.m. according to WFAA 4. A small two-door Honda was traveling north on Interstate 45, crossed the median and slammed into the truck south of Malloy Bridge Road.
The car became pinned under the truck and burst into flames, FOX 4 reported. Firefighters doused the flames and found the bodies of two men inside.
The driver managed to escape the truck with only minor injuries, Wilmer Fire Department chief told NBC 5.
The Honda was registered in Houston, so it is possible that the victims may have been fleeing the flood, although deputies cannot confirm this until the men are identified and the families notified.
The crash occurred on the county line between the Dallas and Ellis counties near the town of Wilmer.
Firefighters did their best to salvage the supplies, but according to Fox 4 all of the supplies were destroyed along with the trailer.
The truck was believed to be heading to Galveston, WFAA 8 reported. It is still unclear why the Honda crossed the median.
All lanes on southbound I-45 were closed until 1 a.m. Thursday.
Explosions at a chemical plant near Houston posed fresh concerns for storm-battered Texas on Thursday while rescuers searched block by block for survivors of Harvey and the death toll rose to 35 people.
The explosions in Crosby, Texas, were the latest consequence of the historic flooding brought by the most powerful storm to land in Texas in a half-century, which drove tens of thousands from their homes around the U.S. energy hub.
Portions of the state’s southeastern coast, including Beaumont and Port Arthur, remained severely flooded, even as some commuters began returning to parts of Houston. In Beaumont, a hospital was evacuated after losing its water service.
In Crosby, about 30 miles northeast of Houston, about 15 sheriff’s deputies were taken to the hospital after being exposed to a 40-foot-high smoke plume. The smoke erupted when chemicals stored at an Arkema SA plant burst into flames after the refrigerator cooling the truck trailer they were stored in failed.
After the multiple blasts, local public safety and company officials insisted there was no risk to the public outside the 1.5-mile safety perimeter, even though they said eight more trucks storing the same chemicals would eventually catch fire.
“They are going to burn with intensity,” said Bob Royall, assistant chief of emergency operations at the Harris County Fire Marshal’s Office. “Most of the material is going to be consumed by a very hot fire.”
That was no comfort to Frances Breaux as she pleaded with police at the perimeter to check on an elderly married couple who live two streets from the plant. The couple—Leo and LeJane Opelia, who are both in their late 70s—were evacuated from their home, but returned Wednesday night to check on their cats and belongings, Breaux said.
“I keep trying to call them and I can’t reach them,” Breaux said through tears. “I just want to make sure that they are OK.”
Police said the risk of more blasts made it too dangerous to check on the couple.
An Arkema company official described the smoke as a noxious irritant created after refrigeration systems on a truck used to store the chemicals failed, causing them to overheat.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said in a statement that the amount of toxic materials released appeared to be too small to present a public health concern.
Reuters contributed to this report.