A tanker stopped at a railroad crossing--as they are required to do by law--when a semi hit it from behind. The tanker was carrying almost 7,000 gallons of a chemical called Naphtholite. Most of it was contained inside the truck, but some of it spilled onto the road and into a ditch. Even worse, the chemical is extremely flammable.
"It's a highly flammable chemical and there was a large quantity of it in the tanker truck leaking onto the roadway," says Mark Catanzarite from South Bend Fire Department's HAZMAT team.
That meant after the driver of the semi was removed from the car and flown to the hospital, attentions turned towards safety.
"Keeping the area safe," says Assistant Chief David Bacon from the Plymouth Police Department, " keeping the firemen safe. And then keeping the surrounding areas as far as retail and industry to make sure everyone was safe."
One way of doing that was with foam.
"Foam is used to protect the area. When you have a flammable liquid on the ground the vapors are rising that's what's going to ignite and crate the fire. The foam actually blankets that to keep the vapors down," explains Art Jacobs from the Plymouth Fire Department.
Meanwhile, part of Route 30 was closed for most of the day. Traffic was re-routed through downtown Plymouth. That created problems of its own.
"I've been sitting in this one spot for 25-30 minutes," says Mark Caisey, a truck driver. "I get paid by the miles so right now I'm not getting paid. It's a terrible thing isn't it."
The traffic was terrible, but if you ask the emergency workers, we don't know how terrible the episode COULD have been.