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Overturned tanker leaking fuel forces evacuation of Clay County day care

State Road 21 expected to be closed most of day as crews clean up spill

KEYSTONE HEIGHTS, Fla. – A fuel tanker overturned Tuesday morning in a crash on State Road 21 in Keystone Heights, forcing the area -- including a nearby day care -- to be evacuated.

The crash on SR 21 near Woodland Drive left the road blocked and gas leaking onto the roadway. According to authorities, more than 1,500 gallons of gasoline leaked from the fuel tanker, but the spill was contained and did not reach a nearby lake.

SR 21 was closed in both directions, and a 1,000-foot perimeter was set to allow crews to clean up the spill and right the tanker. The remaining gas will first be transferred out of the tanker before it can be moved. The Florida Highway Patrol, Clay County Fire Rescue, Clay County Sheriff’s Office and Environmental Protection Agency are working to transfer the gasoline.

The CCFR Hazmat Team used two high-pressure airbags to patch the fuel tanker leak, firefighters said. The tanker was left lying on the valves, so a special response crew had to be called in to drill into the side to transfer the remaining fuel to an empty tanker standing by.

As of 11 a.m., the road was expected to be closed for at least eight hours, and drivers were encouraged to find other routes.

A fuel tanker crash forced a day care to be evacuated in Keystone Heights.
A fuel tanker crash forced a day care to be evacuated in Keystone Heights.

According to authorities, just after 7:30 a.m., a car was traveling north on State Road 21 and tried to make a left-hand turn into the day care center. Another car rear-ended it, pushing it into the path of the fuel tanker, which was traveling south.

The fuel tanker collided with that vehicle and overturned.

The driver of the tanker was not seriously injured but could be seen walking around the crash scene wearing a bandage on his head.

He told News4Jax that the crash happened so quickly, all he remembers is his truck being on its side.

According to Clay County Emergency Management, A Child’s Garden day care center, which is near the crash, was evacuated as a precaution, and the children were taken to Clay County Fire Rescue Station 11 on State Road 21.

Later in the morning, the school system took the remaining children to the Keystone Elementary School gymnasium to wait for parents to pick them up.

According to authorities, drivers from Gainesville will take 100 to Immocklee and drivers coming from the north will want to take Immocklee to 100.


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