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UPDATE: 1 lane of Hwy 64 reopened after tanker truck removed from Ocoee River Wednesday

Image: WTVC

UPDATE (Wednesday 10:40 p.m.):

TDOT says they have reopened one lane of traffic on Highway 64 in Polk County after removing a tanker truck that crashed into the Ocoee River Tuesday.

TDOT spokesperson Jennifer Flynn says crews have completed their roadway and guardrail repairs. Flaggers will assist with traffic control.

Flynn asks that drivers be patient while travelling through the area and to watch out for flaggers.

Polk County EMA director Steve Lofty says crews will be there several more days to cleanup the fuel that spilled in the river.

The West Polk Volunteer Fire Department shared photos and video from the scene on their Facebook page:

Depend on us to keep you posted.


UPDATE (Wednesday evening):

The tanker truck that crashed through a Highway 64 guardrail into the Ocoee River Tuesday has been removed from the area.

We were there to see the tanker hauled away.

The road has not yet been reopened. Crews are working to repair the road surface and guardrail damaged in the crash.

Depend on us to keep you posted.



UPDATE (Wednesday afternoon):

Crews have successfully removed the tanker truck from the Ocoee River, but the road is still closed. TDOT says that once they get it out of the gorge and repairs are made to the guardrail, they will reopen one lane of traffic.

Sheriff Ross says crews are working to replace the guardrail damaged in the crash.


Polk County EMA director Steve Lofty says crews will be here 3-5 more days to cleanup the fuel that spilled in the river.

Depend on us to keep you posted as we learn more.


UPDATE (Wednesday 11:45 a.m.):

By early afternoon Wednesday, crews had drained the remaining fuel from the truck, but the truck itself was still in the water. The driver is okay, but the closed highway put a damper on some people’s plans.

The impacted area is the 23-mile stretch from Highway 314 to Ducktown.

That was a problem for raft guide Henry Churillo, who had plans to get ready for the opening weekend of rafting season.

“It changes a whole lot. We had plans to go get some gear from our main outpost, but now that the road is closed we can’t get there, let alone, we can’t get to the top of the river,” Churillo said.

Churillo hopes the fuel already in the river doesn’t have any long-term effect.

“Hopefully it’s not terrible. It shouldn’t affect the rafting too much, because, yes it is downstream of everything, so in that aspect, we would be good,” Churillo said.

Meanwhile, driver Andy Fischer was hoping to take in some of the area’s natural beauty.

“I’m a photographer and I’m trying to take pictures of waterfalls and the environment here because it’s really so cool,” Fischer said.

Obviously, he had to change plans.

“We were trying to go through and see the Ocoee Dam, and now this accident, I don’t know where we’re gonna go,” Fischer said.

He learned the detour around the roadblock may be quite a bit longer now.

But he plans to make the best of it.

“That’s the nice thing about being retired. It just doesn’t matter, you know, it’ll give me two and a half more hours of scenery to see,” Fischer said.

Continue to follow NewsChannel 9 for updates on when the home highway will be back open and what impact the fuel spill could have on the environment.

Here are new pictures from the scene:


UPDATE (Wednesday, 9 a.m.):

Crews successfully removed the fuel from the truck, and are now working on removing the truck from the river.

Depend on us to keep you posted.

UPDATE (Wednesday, 7 a.m.):

Highway 64 remains closed for drivers Wednesday morning between Highway 314 and Ducktown.

Drivers must take an alternate route on U.S. Highway 411 North for traffic west of the crash, and State Highway 68 for traffic east of the crash.

Crews will try to remove the tanker truck from the Ocoee River at daybreak. They say, however, that the operation will likely take most of the day.

NewsChannel 9's Brandon Evans is reporting live from near the scene on Good Morning Chattanooga. Watch live updates on your device here.

He gave a live update on Facebook just before 7 a.m.:

Depend on us to bring you updates as we get them.

UPDATE (10:31 p.m.):

The Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP) says Glenn Morris of Hixson was driving the tanker truck carrying 8,000 gallons of fuel when it crashed through a guard rail at mile marker 12.5 into the Ocoee River in Polk County Tuesday.

Polk Co. EMA director Steve Lofty says Morris was able to get out and is doing okay. THP Sergeant Alan Bailey says Morris had minor injuries in the crash, and was taken to the hospital by family members.

Bailey says the section of Highway 64 between county road 314 and Ducktown will be closed through the night. Crews continue the effort to try and clean fuel from the river.

Depend on us to keep you posted.

UPDATE (7:15 p.m.):

Polk Co. EMA director Steve Lofty confirms the driver of a tanker truck that crashed through a guard rail into the Ocoee River was able to get out and is doing okay.

Lofty says the tanker is carrying 4,000 gallons of gas and 4,000 of diesel, which are slowly leaking into the Ocoee River.

The Hamilton County Hazmat team and other crews have put down booms into the river to help control the leak.

Crews will continue to clean the fuel into Tuesday night.

Lofty says crews will try to upright the tanker, pump out the remaining fuel, and then remove the truck.

This process will take most of the night, and Director Lofty says the process is being made more difficult because of heavy rain and wind.

Lofty says the section of Highway 64 between county road 314 and Ducktown will remain closed for now due to the potential of explosion.

Sergeant Alan Bailey with the THP provided the following detours:

  • US Highway 411 North for traffic west of the crash
  • State Highway 68 for traffic east of the crash

Among those responding are the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA), West and East Polk Fire & Rescue teams, THP, TDOT, and a representative for the trucking company.

Depend on us to keep you posted as we learn more.


UPDATE (6:42 p.m.):

NewsChannel 9's James Torrez reported with the latest on the tanker crash in Polk County Tuesday.

See more below.


PREVIOUSLY (5 p.m):

Crews are working to pull a tanker truck out of the Ocoee River, Polk County dispatch confirmed Tuesday afternoon.

Polk County dispatch says the truck has crashed on Highway 64 between Mile Marker 11 and 12, and is now in the river.

Polk County Sheriff Steve Ross says they have shut down U.S. Highway 64 from Highway 314 to Ducktown as crews work.

Crews on the scene told James Torrez that they are treating it as an "explosive situation," and that there are about 8,000 gallons of fuel in the river.

The Tennessee Highway Patrol is leading the investigation.

Right now, we don't know of any injuries.

This is a developing story. Depend on us to update this story as we learn more.

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