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Corbett signs disaster emergency proclamation, which could bring federal aid to repair roadway.

Last updated: May 11. 2013 12:04AM - 1230 Views

This photo provided by Andrew Huston shows what remains of a tanker truck that was loaded with diesel fuel after it overturned and burned along Interstate 81, shutting down the heavily traveled artery near Harrisburg, Pa. on Thursday, May 9, 2013. The truck was headed northbound from Carlisle shortly after 6 a.m. when it flipped over on a ramp to Route 22-322 westbound, near the I-81 bridge over the Susquehanna River. State police said the driver, a 52-year-old from Dover, Pa., was treated at a hospital for minor injuries. (AP Photo/Andrew Huston)
This photo provided by Andrew Huston shows what remains of a tanker truck that was loaded with diesel fuel after it overturned and burned along Interstate 81, shutting down the heavily traveled artery near Harrisburg, Pa. on Thursday, May 9, 2013. The truck was headed northbound from Carlisle shortly after 6 a.m. when it flipped over on a ramp to Route 22-322 westbound, near the I-81 bridge over the Susquehanna River. State police said the driver, a 52-year-old from Dover, Pa., was treated at a hospital for minor injuries. (AP Photo/Andrew Huston)
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HARRISBURG — A section of Interstate 81 near Harrisburg was expected to remain closed in both directions for the next several days after a tanker truck fully loaded with diesel fuel overturned Thursday morning and exploded into flames, sending black smoke billowing into the sky.

Officials said the crash occurred on an on-ramp to Route 22-322, where the ramp curls back over the interstate and runs under another section of Route 22-322. They said the intense heat buckled steel beams on the top section and damaged it so badly there were fears it could collapse and fall onto I-81.

“There really could not have been a worse spot for this to have occurred,” state Transportation Secretary Barry Schoch told reporters.

State police said the driver, Thomas Uecker, 52, of Dover, Pa., was treated at a hospital for minor injuries. The truck was registered to Tameric Enterprises LLC in Carlisle.

A disaster emergency proclamation that Gov. Tom Corbett signed following the tanker truck fire will allow the state to seek federal aid for some of the more than $10 million in damages.

Meanwhile, the Pennsylvania Turnpike is waiving tolls for motorists who drive between the Carlisle and Harrisburg East exits as an alternative to Interstate 81.

Motorists must take a ticket at one exit and present it at the other to get the free tolls.


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