Interstate 81 reopens after fiery crash

Photo credit: Linda Sancenito

MECHANICSBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – A two-mile section of Interstate 81 has reopened after a fiery crash this morning in Cumberland County.

The crash involving a car and a tractor-trailer closed the interstate between Exit 57 for Route 114 and Exit 59 at the Route 581 interchange around 11 a.m.

The northbound lanes reopened around 2:10 p.m. The southbound lanes reopened around 12:20 p.m.

Photo credit: Linda Sancenito
Photo credit: Linda Sancenito

Police said a man in a southbound minivan crossed the median at mile marker 58 and struck a northbound tractor-trailer in the fuel tank, causing the tank to explode and catch fire. The tractor-trailer driver tried to avoid the crash and sideswiped another tractor-trailer.

The driver of the minivan was flown to Penn State Hershey Medical Center after emergency crews freed him from his vehicle. A passenger was transported to the hospital by ambulance. There was no immediate word on their medical conditions.

The truck drivers were not injured.

Photo credit: Linda Sancenito
Photo credit: Linda Sancenito

A pillar of black smoke could be seen for miles as the tractor-trailer burned in the median.

The crash caused a miles-long backlog on I-81 and also caused heavy traffic on Route 581 and Route 11.

The Cumberland Valley School District said buses may be delayed in dropping off students at the end of the school day.

Any witnesses to the crash are asked to call state police in Carlisle at 717-249-2121.

Online: PennDOT Traffic Cameras

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