A van rear-ended a high pressure tank on a semi carrying anhydrous ammonia last week in Pratt on First Street during rush hour traffic.
A high pressure tanker truck carrying anhydrous ammonia came to a stop in rush-hour traffic on Pratt's First Street at 4:45 p.m., waiting for a passenger car that was turning into the Dragon's Den Restaurant on Wednesday, November 27 in Pratt. The car turned as planned, but before the truck could get moving again, a Ford van driven by Timothy Kuemin, 50, Pratt, slammed into the rear bumper of the Peterbuilt semi driven by Peter Merkerison, 77, of Woodward, Oklahoma.
"It was a mess because of all the traffic at that time of day," said Pratt Police Deputy Rebecca Slief, the first officer on the scene. "The van caught fire due to an electrical problem and I immediately called Fire and Rescue out. That tanker was hauling ammonia and it could have been a very bad deal."
Pratt City Fire crews arrived within minutes, despite having to fight through the traffic that was now jamming up on both sides of Pratt’s main thoroughfare.
"I was worried because the accident happened in a terrible spot, but luckily the fire was put out very quickly, only the bumper was damaged on the semi, there was no further danger of explosion as the tank was fully intact and not damaged in the incident," Slief said.
It took almost two hours for emergency crews to clear the scene of the accident as the van was undriveable. Van Slyke Auto was able to pull the bumper back out on the back of the Peterbuilt semi so it could drive away from the scene, Slief said.
"With it being the day before Thanksgiving and the traffic as busy as it was, it was just a complete debacle," Slief said. "But we are all very thankful that it wasn't worse.
Traffic was shut down on the westbound lanes of First Street off and on for more than two hours as officers and emergency crews worked the scene. Stout Street traffic was halted, the Dragon's Den Restaurant had to close temporarily because of the incident, but no injuries reported in connection to the accident.