WASHINGTON — A fatal traffic collision and fire Wednesday shut down a portion of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge for hours and impacted traffic in the surrounding area.
The fire occurred in the Outer Loop lanes of the bridge around 11 a.m. The blaze was ignited after a northbound tractor trailer lost control and struck a boom truck and two other highway construction vehicles, according to Maryland State Police.
That crash killed the tractor-trailer’s driver.
“It looked like a bomb went off,” one witness told NBC Washington.
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Seven others were treated and released, said Denny Chatel, assistant fire chief for Prince George’s Fire/EMS. One was taken to the hospital.
Response to the accident involved four jurisdictions and an estimated 100 personnel, Chatel said.
Heavy smoke from the fire shut down the Inner Loop for about an hour. Outer Loop local lanes in the area reopened on the bridge later Wednesday afternoon, but through lanes remain closed in that direction until just before 11 p.m. amid the ongoing investigation and cleanup.
Major backups continued into the evening rush hour on southbound Interstate 295, as well as on the Inner Loop from Branch Avenue toward MGM National Harbor.
Several workers who were working under the bridge were left stranded when the fire started but were rescued, said Mark Brady, a spokesman for the Prince George Fire/EMS Department.
A police boat was patrolling the Potomac, Prince George’s County police said, when officers aboard saw the explosion near the bridge. The boat and officers on board were able to position themselves to help rescue the workers who were lowered down to the boat.
D.C. and Alexandria Fire Services sent trucks and fire boats to help fight the blaze.
We are clearing traffic stuck in the southbound lane on the MD side due to incident on Woodrow Wilson Bridge. pic.twitter.com/NdgEiGNhqU
— PGPDNEWS (@PGPDNews) June 20, 2018
WTOP’s Dave Dildine and Ana Srikanth contributed to this report.
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