A tanker truck transporting 11,000 gallons of gasoline that rolled over and burst into flames on Route 24 in Fall River sent think black smoke into air, shook nearby houses, and brought traffic to a standstill.
Massachusetts State Police said the driver of the truck that rolled over at about 7:15 a.m. Monday was pulled from her cab by a passer-by. She was taken to the hospital and later identified as 46-year-old Lisa Korch, of Danielson, Conn. She's expected to survive.
The truck, owned by J.P. Noonan, was heading north and preparing to exit at the time.
Broadcast reports showed the entire tanker in flames on the side of the highway. All four lanes were closed for nearly three hours.
"Boom, boom, boom," said Fall River residence Carlos Goncalves. "We thought it was a bomb."
Nathan Viveiros said he could see flames and smoke billow up from the tanker from a nearby window.
"From the upstairs window you could get a pretty good view of what was going on," he said. "That's where I was observing for about 10, 15 minutes."
No buildings, including nearby schools, were endangered.
Firefighters, however, had some trouble fighting the fire.
"The problem was water, water supply. There are no hydrants in this area. So we had to call all the surrounding communities to bring their tankers with water. By the time we got all that set up, most of the gasoline had already burned off. So it was like a good two, two-and-a-half hours that it had burned," said Chief Robert Viveiros of the Fall River Fire Department.
Viveiros said it was a bad situation, but that it couldn't have happened in a better place. He said the isolation of the highway helped keep the fire contained.
Environmental officials were trying to determine how much gasoline soaked into the ground and whether it contaminated a nearby stream.
The cause of the crash remains under investigation.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.