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ROCKVILLE, MD: A tanker truck carrying thousands of gallons of fuel rolled over and exploded into flames early Thursday morning. The semi truck accident happened on Montrose Road in Rockville, Maryland, near Interstate 270. The area is in the central section of the state, 44 miles southwest of Baltimore, MD and 21 miles north of Washington, DC.

The tanker truck exploded into flames upon impact. The truck driver was able to pull himself out of the Peterbilt truck and escaped injury.

At around 4:45 a.m. Thursday, the 45 year old truck driver, Michael A. Gongola of Frederick, MD, was operating a Peterbilt truck, carrying close to 9000 gallons of gasoline. He was driving from northbound I-270, onto westbound Montrose when he began to drift to the left side of the road. Gongola attempted to bring the tanker truck back and over corrected the maneuver. He lost control of the gasoline truck and it flipped over onto its side and slid on the roadway.


The tanker truck exploded into flames upon impact. The truck driver was able to pull himself out of the Peterbilt truck and escaped injury.

When the fuel truck rolled over it threw off debris which hit the passenger side of another vehicle on the road. That driver, 35 year old Jeffrey Seelig of Rockville, was able to get out of his Infiniti and was not injured in the truck accident.

Area firefighters responded to the truck accident scene and found the tanker on its side with gasoline flowing from the ruptured tank and running onto the road surface. A spokesman for the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service stated that most of the 8900 gallons of gasoline escaped the tanker and helped fuel the truck fire.

Firefighters worked on containing the burning fuel and keeping it out of the storm drains in the area and also from leaking into the asphalt surface. They were forced to keep some distance from the fire, which was giving off an intense heat, and at times had to stretch their fire hoses over 3000 feet in order to reach the flames from the burning truck.


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The massive truck fire continued to burn until a hazardous material crash truck could be brought in from nearby Dulles International Airport. At around 6:15 a.m. the haz-mat truck began spraying the flames with specialized foam to extinguish the fuel fire. It would take 45 minutes, until 6:45 a.m., to fully put out the tanker fire.

The rollover accident and subsequent tanker fire caused havoc with the morning commute and traffic throughout the day. Police shut down Montrose Road near I-270 for more than twelve hours and rerouted drivers through neighborhood streets. The road finally opened shortly after 5:00 p.m.

The tanker truck fire also caused severe damage to the road surface. Maryland State Highway crews did some emergency repairs to the road, including removing two to three inches of asphalt. They will return on Friday to repave the surfaces damaged by the intense heart caused by the truck accident fire. Montrose Road will be closed from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Friday for repair work


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Mr. Gongola, the truck driver, has been charged with negligent driving. Officials have not determined what caused the truck driver to lose control of the tanker truck, and the truck accident remains under investigation.

Driver negligence, driver fatigue and drowsiness are some of many conditions that result in reckless behavior such as failure to keep in the proper lane and running off the road. Tired truckers are of such concern that in April of 2003, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) instituted new hours of service regulations to curb truckers’ problems with fatigue. While these laws have helped reduce the number of accidents, the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board still blames driver fatigue as a probable factor in 20-40% of truck crashes.

For a Free Consultation about trucking laws in Maryland , Washington, DC or throughout the United States, contact a Maryland truck accident lawyer or Washington DC truck accident attorney at 1.800.773.6770.

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