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Accident Report Detail

Propane Truck Collision with Bridge Column and Fire

Executive Summary

‚ÄčAbout 12:30 a.m. on July 27, 1994, a tractor cargo-tank semitrailer loaded with 9,200 gallons of propane (a liquefied petroleum gas) and operated by Suburban Paraco Corporation was traveling east on Interstate 287 in White Plains, New York. The truck drifted across the left lane onto the left shoulder and struck the guardrail; the tank hit a column of the Grant Avenue overpass. The tractor and the semitrailer separated, and the front head of the tank fractured, releasing the propane, which vaporized into gas. The resulting vapor cloud expanded until it found a source of ignition. When it ignited, according to an eyewitness, a fireball rose 200 or 300 feet in the air. The tank was propelled northward about 300 feet and landed on a frame house, engulfing it in flames.

The driver was killed, 23 people were injured, and an area with a radius of approximately 400 feet was engulfed by fire.

Probable Cause

‚ÄčThe National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable causes of this accident were the reduction in the alertness of the driver (consistent with falling asleep) caused by his failure to properly schedule and obtain rest, and the failure of Paraco Gas Corporation, Inc., to exercise adequate oversight of its driver's hours of service. Contributing to the accident was the design of the highway geometries and appurtenances, which did not accommodate an errant heavy vehicle. Contributing to the severity of the accident was the vulnerability of the bridge to collision from high-speed heavy vehicles.

Accident Location: White Plains , NY    
Accident Date: 7/27/1994
Accident ID: DCA94MH008

Date Adopted: 11/14/1995
NTSB Number: HAR-95-02
NTIS Number: PB95-916202

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