The West Virginia Department of Transportation told 59News that the trailer that rolled over in an accident on Interstate 77 Thursday, May 2 had Class 4 Flammable Solids inside. Firefighters noticed the placard on the side of the truck when they arrived on the scene which warned that the chemicals were "Dangerous When Wet." The chemicals were lithium and disodium trioxalate.
Department of Transportation officials said Dupont Chemical had to come down to make the hazardous chemicals safe. That is reportedly what took so long to clear the accident.
According to the United States Postal Service web site - Dangerous When Wet substances have the following properties:
A material that, by contact with water, is likely to become spontaneously flammable or to give off flammable or toxic gas at a rate greater than 1 liter per kilogram of the material per hour.
A release from the Penn State Environmental Health and Safety web site - Lithium is classified in that category which is Division 4.3 of Class 4 Flammable Solids. FedEx, the carrier that was transporting the chemicals also has a Hazardous Materials Shipping Guide that can be found online in PDF format.
LATEST UPDATE: Raleigh County Emergency Services reports that all northbound lanes on I-77 have just re-opened, as of 9:05 p.m. Thursday.
59 News is told the detour has been lifted and that traffic is moving slowly.
One lane of Northbound Interstate 77 will remain open temporarily. The truck cannot be moved until the HAZMAT team arrives. Once the team is on site, the road will once again be closed while crews clean up any potential hazardous materials.
Firefighters are on the scene of a tractor trailer fire in the Northbound lanes of Interstate 77 on Thursday, May 2. Officials have closed the road for travelers who are headed toward Charleston.
The blaze was located at around mile marker 43 between the Mabscott and Harper Road exits. Traffic is backed up for miles. Officials are asking people to stay away from the scene, because there were Hazardous Materials on the truck.
Mabscott, Pax, and Bradley-Prosperity Fire Departments were on the scene, as well as the West Virginia State Police. Cpl Chris Payne with the State Police Turnpike division told 59News that a silver hatchback car head south crossed the median and ran head on into the FedEx truck going north. There is no word on what caused the car to lose control. Three people were hurt in the accident. The driver of the car had to be airlifted to a Charleston hospital. The driver and passenger in the FedEx truck were taken to a hospital in Beckley.
State Troopers said two teams that handle Hazardous Material are headed to the scene. They are asking people to be patient while crews try to ensure the safety of drivers, emergency responders and nearby residents.
"People is just going to have to be patient and realize that where they have to get in their hurry is no where near (as important as) the safety of the people out here," said Cpl. Chris Payne with the West Virginia State Police. "If we rush with one spot it could affect a lot of people , so there is no reason to be in a hurry."
The West Virginia Department of Transportation activated "Detour C" to help alleviate the traffic in the northbound lanes. That routes drivers onto Route 19 at Exit 40. Travelers will go down Route 19 past Crossroads Mall and head back onto the Turnpike at the North Beckley Exit (Exit 48).