A gas tanker rollover Sunday closed Interstate 17 near Anthem for about six hours and caused a 15-mile backup along the Valley’s main route to the high country.
No one was seriously injured when a Flying J tanker collided with a Honda Accord at about 9 a.m., sending the tanker into the median, where it rolled over and dumped about 7,800 gallons of diesel fuel.
The truck driver, a 53-year-old man from Winslow, managed to climb out of the truck and suffered only minor injuries, according to state Department of Public Safety officer Robert L. Bailey.
The other driver, a 27-year-old Cottonwood woman, had two 1-year-old children in the car. Bailey said there were no reported injuries to her or the children.
Both vehicles were heading northbound when the truck moved from the far left lane into the center lane, clipping the back end of the Honda, Bailey said. The car spun around and hit the truck, which swerved to miss the Honda and overturned in the median.
“It was lucky in the fact that no one was seriously injured or killed,” Bailey said. “The traffic was a problem. But when you have hazardous materials like that, you can’t afford to have traffic in the area.”
The highway was closed in both directions while crews worked to clean up the spill, most of which was in the dirt median. Had the fuel spilled on the highway, Bailey said, the cleanup would have taken much longer.
Southbound traffic, diverted off I-17 at New River, was backed up all the way to Black Canyon City, said Laura Douglas of the Arizona Department of Transportation. Northbound traffic exited at Carefree Highway.
The highway reopened in both directions at about 3 p.m.
Hazardous materials teams from DPS, ADOT and Phoenix, Glendale and Daisy Mountain fire departments responded.
No citations have been issued and the accident remains under investigation.