Homes evacuated, highway closed after tanker holding explosive materials overturns in Pitt County

PITT COUNTY, N.C. (WITN) – Five homes have been evacuated and a highway shut down after a tanker carrying explosive materials overturned.

The Highway Patrol says Highway 222, west of Fountain, remains closed this afternoon.

The 18-wheeler is carrying ammonium nitrate, chemicals used in explosions at sites like rock quarries. Pitt County Emergency Services says each chemical is separated within the truck.

Leaks from the tanker have been stopped, according to Deputy Emergency Management Director James McArthur. This afternoon, the tanker was uprighted and they’re now waiting for it to be removed from the highway.

McArthur says a hazmat cleanup company will then work to clean up whatever is left behind.

“It is a rural part of Pitt County. There isn’t a lot heavy population and it isn’t a heavily traveled road,” says McArthur. “222 is one of our larger highways but with the time of day it did not present a significant threat to the community.”

Troopers say William Hernan, of Clinton, was traveling east when he lost control of his truck around 7:00 a.m., overturned, and spilled the chemicals he was hauling.

The section of highway that is closed is between Dunn Road and Highway 258. The Highway Patrol says it will be closed until further notice.

The 31-year-old Hernan was taken to ECU Health Medical Center with non-life-threatening injuries.

County officials say there is no immediate threat to public safety or wildlife and no serious injuries.

All drivers are asked to avoid the area as crews work to clear the scene and reopen the roadway.