VIDEO: Tanker truck goes sideways, leaks fuel; West Seattle low bridge access blocked for hours

(WSB photo added 11:22 pm)

10:48 PM: Big Seattle Fire hazmat response at Chelan/Spokane, just west of the low bridge, for what SFD says is an overturned tanker truck leaking gasoline. Traffic is being diverted at the north end of Delridge. The Delridge exit from the bridge is being blocked off, per scanner. More to come.

10:54 PM: Per scanner, SFD believes the tanker is leaking from multiple spots. They’re trying to get into position to get foam on the leaking fuel. Stay well clear of the area.

Traffic cameras show the west end of the bridge is blocked. Per SFD, the tanker driver got out OK.

11:22 PM: They’re evacuating the Chelan Café/bar (Ebb Tide Room). Also, per scanner (we’ve just arrived at the scene so will have some firsthand info soon), they’re setting up a “unified command” including SDOT as well as SFD and SPD. SFD adds via Twitter that Seattle Public Utilities and the Coast Guard have been notified, and that it will take several hours to offload the tanker.

(Photo by Brandon Smith)

11:54 PM: More SFD resources have arrived, and there are also radio communications about SFD and USCG boats checking the Duwamish for any sign of fuel from this. We’re now on the west side of the crash area; SFD was sending a public-information officer to gather info for us (and any other media on scene).

12:05 AM: Another tanker has arrived so this one’s fuel can be offloaded.

12:31 AM: Here’s SFD foaming the scene early on – thanks to Doug for tweeting the video:

12:53 AM: SFD spokesperson Hilton Almond has briefed us at nearby Fire Station 36. He says the tanker is still leaking – they believe the double-trailer truck was carrying about 5,000 gallons.

A fireboat is on the Duwamish looking for signs of spillage. SPU has public-information officer Eric Autry at the scene too and says they’ll have a boat out in the morning. We recorded the briefing on video and will add that when it’s uploaded. (Update: Added)

The timeline for offloading the fuel is still described as “several hours” so hard to say how this will affect the morning commute but we would speculate it’s likely to – the low bridge is currently blocked off both ways as is much of Spokane under the bridge and the north end of Delridge Way.

Almond explained that firefighters have to keep re-applying the foam to suppress vapor from the leaking fuel.

1:23 AM: We’re back at HQ for a while and have heard via scanner that the Coast Guard has vessels out at the mouth of the Duwamish restricting maritime traffic while this remains unsettled.

2:32 AM: SDOT camera shows the offloading hasn’t started yet. Radio communication indicates they’re starting soon and expect it to take at least a few hours.

4:58 AM: Still emptying the truck.

5:20 AM: Since the main bike accesses to the low bridge are blocked, a shuttle is planned, though no details yet. (update) Metro says the bike shuttle is running from the northbound SW Avalon Way stop just north of SW Charlestown – Luna Park area.

6 AM: The Delridge ramp to the eastbound high bridge IS open – we just went over to verify. (Added below: 6:09 am screengrab of SDOT cam at scene)

6:37 AM: But bike riders attempting to get to the low bridge from the north end of Delridge will be turned away – we are in the area and just saw it happen to 2 more. At the crash scene, the tanker that was offloading fuel has just left (it passed us southbound on Delridge). Next: Uprighting and towing the crashed truck, and cleanup. … Also note that West Marginal is blocked north of SW Marginal Place until this is cleared.

7:30 AM: The tipped section of the tanker is still being uprighted. (Added above, a few minutes later – SDOT cam now shows two tow rigs involved)

8:05 AM: The tanker is now upright, after 9+ hours.

Next – towing and cleanup.

8:23 AM: Police have reopened the Delridge offramp from the high bridge.

9:36 AM: Not fully reopened yet otherwise but Metro says “most” buses have returned to their regular routes. The bike shuttle is still running.

10:21 AM: After almost 12 hours, police have just announced via radio communication that everything is reopening.

2:25 PM: We’re working on a separate followup about environmental ramifications and cleanup – will link here when that’s up. Meantime we asked police about the investigation. Too soon to say if any citations will ensue as this is being handled by the Traffic Collision Investigation Squad; SPD says the early indication is that the trailer may have gone sideways because of a “sharp right turn.”

79 Replies to "VIDEO: Tanker truck goes sideways, leaks fuel; West Seattle low bridge access blocked for hours"

  • JanS August 1, 2018 (11:14 pm)

    glad the driver is OK. just heard more sirens about 45 seconds ago headed down there. If I hear a BOOM, I’ll let you know.  Scary…hope the Cafe survives the night (j/k, but gasoline leaking? not a good thing). Sadly, I’m imagining speed had something to do with this :-\. 

    • WSB August 2, 2018 (12:12 am)

      We’re down here. No idea what caused the crash, we’ll of course be asking. That intersection is a difficult one at best for many modes.

    • 935 August 2, 2018 (5:54 am)

      What a great early supposition…tell us JanS about your background as an accident reconstruntionist?Seems now might be an opportunity to simmer down, wait for cooler heads to prevail before casting any aspersions as to the causation to what is clearly a terrifying incident. The thought of burning to death in a lake of gas is enough to make anyone quiver…Thank God for Doug and his bravery!

      • Janet Seeley August 2, 2018 (8:24 am)

        Oh, 935, You’re so funny. I guess you missed the word “imagining” 

        • Nolan August 2, 2018 (8:52 am)

          That doesn’t make your “imagination” any more appropriate for this time and place. Save it for the police report.

          • JanS August 2, 2018 (1:47 pm)

            For both 935 and Nolan…wow, just wow. What is with let’s dump on Jan today? Let’s get personal right off. I made a comment.  Y’all make comments. I know that intersection well.  And that’s a sharp turn he had to make. Lots of people speculated about the cause. I’m so glad you two guys are so superior, so perfect that you didn’t do that. Glad to see that you were both concerned with the driver, that no one was hurt, that it wasn’t worse than it already was, instead of criticizing other commenters. You both have a great weekend.  And try to be nicer to your fellow humans. Apologies to TR and the rest of y’all for my response here. I’m gone.

          • Nolan August 3, 2018 (9:12 am)

            Don’t say inconsiderate things if you don’t want to be called out for saying inconsiderate things.

    • RickWS August 2, 2018 (5:03 pm)

      Jans,Tractors with loads on them do not inexplicably roll on their side whilst cornering.  Regardless of how fast, the truck cornered too fast for the high center of gravity and the trailing load.  So, your observation that speed was a factor is pretty much undeniable unless the truck was just standing there and suddenly flopped on it’s side.  [unlikely but  i guess possible].    And yes,  I’ve studied accident recreations in University.   That intersection leaves a lot to be desired in terms of  corner angles.  Even 10 mph and sudden breaking could be “too fast” on the correct slope, with sufficient load in the tractor Tank and the trailer tank , which seems to have remained standing.

      • JanS August 2, 2018 (10:32 pm)

        RickWS…thanks. Yes, even a teeny bit too fast would cause things to shift, I think. I hate that intersection. Had to go through there 3 times a week going home from dialysis for two years. At night the lanes are even worse. You have to know beforehand where you’re going, and so many turning  from coming down Delridge are either in the wrong lane or turn left, and immediately  get in the right lane to go under the bridge without checking over their shoulder. I imagine that for a truck driver not really familiar with the 5 way, that going from W. Marginal to the low bridge can be very hairy indeed.  I’m just glad that as bad as this was, that no one was hurt.

  • Paul Barclay August 1, 2018 (11:15 pm)

    Low bridge and West Marginal are also both blocked off (as of 11:00 when I tried to get through that way). Looks like they’ll be blocked for a while. 

  • JanS August 1, 2018 (11:35 pm)

    uh oh..those bar patrons are gonna be unhappy…better safe than sorry all around.

  • Roger Williams August 2, 2018 (12:11 am)

    I was heading E on Chelan Ave SW about to turn onto W Marginal way heading south when the accident occurred in front of me.

    • Mike August 2, 2018 (12:18 am)

      Roger Williams: Care to elaborate on what it is you saw per your “firsthand ” account?

  • T August 2, 2018 (1:17 am)

    Echoing what wsb wrote about this being a difficult intersection. I drive through several times a day the way Roger described and most of the time, despite the signs, right arrow traffic light, and arrow painted on the ground, people go straight (to Marginal Way) from the right turn only lane. Lane 1 and 2 can head to Marginal Way and they quickly become one lane. When lane 3 decides to go straight (illegally) as well it is an accident waiting to happen. I’ve been letting DOT and SPD  know about it for years. I hope this is not how the accident happened.

    • WSB August 2, 2018 (1:32 am)

      That’ll have to come from SPD later; only SFD and SPU briefed us and the only other media crew that was on hand (a TV photojournalist). SFD did say there was no other vehicle involved.

      • WestMarg August 2, 2018 (2:17 am)

        Doug watched the truck crash in front of him while he was crossing the street at the Delridge intersection. With fuel beginning to spill around him, he stood deciding whether he should stay to help the driver, who could not get out of his sideways cab, or, as it became increasingly obvious that the gas was leaking everywhere, run for his life. He stayed. He climbed the air horns on the roof like a ladder to get to the driver. I know that he hurt his hand when the door fell back shut like a cellar door. With the driver pushing and Doug pulling, the driver got out and the two of them found their way to solid ground. Doug’s a champ, but he’s a little too humble to brag about what he did. So I’m giving him a public hip-hip-hooray for his selflessness during a situation that required 15 fire trucks and about a zillion cops to redirect traffic. As soon as he hung up the phone, I walked the few blocks to meet him as he headed back home. The scene was like nothing I’ve ever witnessed. The smell of gas filled the space under the Spokane street bridge as the firetrucks sprayed foam over the entire street. It was surreal. Doug’s beer and a smoke at the Chelan turned into a test of his mettle, and I’ll say he passed with flying colors. 

        • WSB August 2, 2018 (2:30 am)

          Thanks for the report!

    • Andrea August 2, 2018 (9:42 am)

      We deal with that regularly. It’s a red arrow and still people go straight, very dangerous! I wish there was a way to address that.  Many times I’ve almost been pushed into the other direction of traffic because someone is shoving their way into one of the two lanes that merge into one. Now I pay close attention so that I have time to break or whatever to avoid the nimrod who doesn’t know what a red arrow means. 

      • junctioneer August 2, 2018 (10:19 am)

        Maybe if it happens so “many times”, a little grace is warranted. Maybe they aren’t so much a “nimrod” as a really confusing intersection. Also, seems pretty off-topic for this news article.

        • Andrea August 2, 2018 (10:36 am)

          A RED ARROW LIGHT is confusing?  And I think that the original comment thought that it was related to the accident.

          • Andrea August 2, 2018 (11:34 am)

            I will apologize for using a word such as nimrod, as name calling does no one any good.  That said when I was in drivers education I definitely learned that an arrow right or left does not mean straight.

          • Michael August 2, 2018 (1:57 pm)

            I took driver training in my home state and Washington didn’t ask me to take a test when I moved here.  Where I’m from we don’t even have freeways and I don’t think my hometown has a red arrow.  If you want Seattle drivers to follow the rules of the road then we should require them to be educated.  Currently we do not.

          • Andrea August 2, 2018 (3:30 pm)

            Great point!

          • Helenweales August 2, 2018 (5:15 pm)

            @michael-completely inane perspective. If you cause an accident because you don’t understand signs or traffic laws, guess who is responsible?  Better educate yourself before you end up responsible for hurting someone.

  • Javan August 2, 2018 (2:30 am)

    I was working at the Chelan Cafe when it happened. Saw the whole thing on smoke break. The truck was coming from West Marginal making a turn for the road that connects to the low bridge. Truck started leaning half way through intersection. Sounded like driver slammed on the brakes but it was to late. The front half on the truck slammed onto it’s side sliding about 12 feet while the trailer tank skidded sideways not falling over. There were only a few cars around but none close enough to be involved. The accident was probably caused from the weight of the gas inside of the tank sloshing to one side from cutting the corner to fast. It didn’t look to me that the driver was going too fast but that is a sharp turn

  • Tracee Geernaert August 2, 2018 (4:55 am)

    Is the bike trail open over the bridge?

    • WSB August 2, 2018 (4:58 am)

      If you can get to it, yes.

      • Loretta August 2, 2018 (5:12 am)

        I just tried to bike over it 20 mins ago (from Delridge) They wouldn’t let us. Closed. They said there’s a shuttle at Luna park. 

        • WSB August 2, 2018 (5:16 am)

          Metro announced the shuttle via Twitter but said details TBA.

        • Vern August 2, 2018 (7:45 am)

          The cop they have parked at the west side of the path (from Delridge) is in a silly spot – they’re blocking the path for no reason.There’s an easy detour around all this that spits you out onto the upper path:

      • Cyclist August 2, 2018 (7:13 am)

        The lower bridge is closed to pedestrian and cycle traffic.

        • WSB August 2, 2018 (8:00 am)

          If they have closed off even the Marginal Place access, that would be new. Also, I’m seeing cars on the westbound low bridge via the live cam – asking SDOT to clarify.

          • WSB August 2, 2018 (8:11 am)

            And … camera shows a rider on the low bridge right now, eastbound. SDOT clarifies that regarding motor vehicle traffic, it’s technically open but for example if you are driving westbound on the low bridge, you’ll have to exit at T-5. Meantime, the tanker’s now upright, so here’s hoping this is all a moot point before too long.

  • ACE August 2, 2018 (5:38 am)

    Is the helicopter related to this?

  • Lisa August 2, 2018 (5:40 am)

    Is this why the helicopter is hovering?

    • WSB August 2, 2018 (5:50 am)


  • bud August 2, 2018 (5:42 am)

    the little spur trail that connects the northern dead end of 22nd Ave SW with the west seattle bridge access trail was open – no police or signs saying trail is closed… rode across the low bridge no problemo this way about a half hour ago.   

    • WSB August 2, 2018 (6:15 am)

      SW Marginal Place access to the bike path (spur off W. Marginal just south of bridge) open.

    • Owen August 2, 2018 (12:59 pm)

      A big thanks for this tip, Bud! My sons and I followed your lead and were able to ride across the bridge at 8:30ish this morning using the 22nd Ave SW connection.

  • Angela August 2, 2018 (6:48 am)

    It would have been nice for them to have closed West Marginal at Highland Park Way sometime over night instead of let everyone drive all the way down just to sit in a cluster and have to divert ourselves. Seriously!

  • Josh August 2, 2018 (7:03 am)

    Lower Bridge access is still closed

  • Josh August 2, 2018 (7:08 am)

    Lower Bridge access still closed at 7 a.m.

    • WSB August 2, 2018 (7:12 am)

      Going to be a while. As updated above, next step is uprighting and removing the crashed tanker. Then some cleanup as the intersection has had fuel and foam all night.

  • westerly August 2, 2018 (7:24 am)

    I was turned away at Delridge and ended up riding south to Highland Park, and up across 1st Ave.  Hopefully will be open for PM commute.

    • Dro August 2, 2018 (8:01 am)

      CYCLISTS: Bridge is open to bikes from 22nd in pigeon point. From delridge/Andover, go east (uphill) two blocks, then left on 22nd. The street dead-ends into the path. 

  • PDieter August 2, 2018 (8:04 am)

    Bicyclists can access the trail eastbound from the end of 22nd (thanks Bud) and westbound trail to delridge is not blocked for some reason.

  • JA August 2, 2018 (8:05 am)

    8:05 am – Admiral is backed up to the viewpoint. 

  • Sukie August 2, 2018 (8:06 am)

    Not too bad on the 21 from Gatewood. I caught the 7:40 am bus and I’m getting off the bridge at 1st Avenue at 8:10 am. 

  • Kim August 2, 2018 (8:12 am)

    It will take you an hour to get from The Met market down Admiral to the bridge.

  • LAH August 2, 2018 (8:15 am)

    Angela,Why would they have closed it as Highland Park Way?  Some of us work at industry all the way down W Marginal Way SW . 

  • steve August 2, 2018 (8:16 am)

    Does anyone remember a couple years ago,  the same thing happened with one of those Russ/LLoyd scrap metal trucks? From W marginal, a hard left, then tip over, or was it the other way? ?? Maybe the turn is too tight for those big trucks. I’m always careful in that area not to shadow a big truck.  I try to give them lots of space and stay away.

  • Brian Hughes August 2, 2018 (8:56 am)

    On the C Line headed into town  – Avalon is a complete mess.

  • sam-c August 2, 2018 (9:08 am)

    Way to leave us hanging Roger !  Glad everyone is ok    

  • Vanessa August 2, 2018 (9:14 am)

    Let’s support our local businesses and have a few meals at the Chelan this week.  I’m sure this accident will have effected their business greatly.  I know folks have lots of favorite restaurants but the Chelan is full of good folks who could appreciate some neighborly love and support!

    • JanS August 2, 2018 (1:58 pm)

      Hear! Hear! , Vanessa. Great breakfast there, looks like expanded parking on one side. Definitely support the locals…the kids will love the Mickey Mouse pancakes :)

  • Alice August 2, 2018 (9:27 am)

    Just drove up Delridge into the high bridge at 9:10am: still no access to the low bridge or area under there. To be expected, just a simple update.

  • Trickycoolj August 2, 2018 (9:34 am)

    Since there isn’t a traffic watch today Highland Park Way was significantly impacted with traffic stopped all the way to Othello (the street mid hill). It crawled to 1st ave Bridge as well asSouth Park Bridge. There wasn’t this much impact when the low bridge was closed earlier this summer so I was not expecting the doubled commute time this late in the morning. 

  • MJ August 2, 2018 (9:53 am)

    It’s good no one got hurt.  I expect the truck operator will be billed for the clean up costs as is appropriate.  And I would hope this applies to everyone equally!

  • Mark August 2, 2018 (9:55 am)

    If everybody would just drive in the bus lane going up to the west seattle bridge this am it would have helped traffic big time!!

    • Hm August 2, 2018 (10:05 am)

      Except for the hundreds of ppl on the busses who easily outnumber drivers there.

    • Michael August 2, 2018 (3:22 pm)

      It would help traffic more if the drivers of single occupant cars were riding the bus.

  • tophat topcat August 2, 2018 (9:56 am)

    no morning updates today?

    • WSB August 2, 2018 (9:58 am)

      This kind of ate everything. Daily calendar highlights shortly, though.

  • Mark August 2, 2018 (10:29 am)

    The buses would move faster if everybody drove in the bus lane!!.They were stuck in traffic. Take back our roads!!!

    • Jort August 2, 2018 (11:56 am)

      “The buses would move faster if everybody drove in the bus lane.”Yeah, I’m seeing maybe a little flaw in your logic there, dude.

    • KBear August 2, 2018 (11:58 am)

      I hope you get the ticket you so richly deserve, Mark. 

  • road warriors August 2, 2018 (11:09 am)

    Based on the seven day a week road rally by the fuel delivery trucks on Avalon at 4am going 45mph through a residential area – I’m going to guess SPEED has something to do with this accident.While I am glad no serious injuries occurred – it is obvious to those of us living on Avalon that we do not get the same concern from delivery drivers of every type, city garbage collections, mail trucks, UPS in the middle of the street, Safeway delivery, construction cranes, and every possible fuel delivery to west seattle – all of who are out of control, not on the Fauntleroy Truck Route and think Avalon is a highway.Perhaps traffic management of any kind  – not five minutes of armchair consideration from SDOT – would create a positive improvement.

  • M August 2, 2018 (11:53 am)

    Took me 1 hour to get from Admiral to 1-90. Barely got through I-90 before they closed the bridge.

  • Marty2 August 2, 2018 (12:26 pm)

    Just drove through the area, the right westbound lane on West Marginal Way is still closed.  Westbound traffic was backed up to SW Dakota Street.  Looks like the City is cleaning out some pipelines.

    • LAH August 2, 2018 (3:09 pm)

      In other news that right lane is still closed!  Rush hour is going to be a nightmare.  

  • Jim P. August 2, 2018 (12:47 pm)

    This could have been a truly nasty event.  I salute the SFD and all connected with keeping this from turning into an inferno.A major fire under/alongside a bridge would probably take out use of that bridge for many days while it was inspected for safety beyond the possibility of loss of life.I am left to hope this oil company has really good insurance as this must have cost a ton of money to control and remediate and the taxpayer should not be the one to foot the bill.

  • Joan August 2, 2018 (1:34 pm)

    I really hate those double trucks – tankers and dump trucks. Very scary and I try to steer very clear of them.

    • Railroader August 2, 2018 (2:02 pm)

      You bet. How many of us have followed a gravel truck, empty or full, that has sprayed rocks into our windshields? Cowboy truckers really suck!

      • Question Authority August 2, 2018 (3:11 pm)

        How many people have followed you as the tread on your rear tires has thrown rocks picked up off the street ?   Nobody is innocent from inadvertently tossing rocks in traffic so don’t just blame Truckers.

  • Amy Thomson August 2, 2018 (4:23 pm)

    Heading north on West Marginal, traffic is stop and go as far back as Andover.  Right lane is closed starting in front of the Riverside Mill.  I figure that it will take you at least 5-10 minutes to get through the 5 way intersection (Chelan, Spokane, W Marginal, Delridge).  I asked one of the clean-up workers how long traffic would continue to be messed up, and he said all through the night.  So avoid the westbound low rise bridge and Northbound West Marginal Way SW.

    • WSB August 2, 2018 (4:33 pm)

      Thanks, goes with all the cleanup info I’m putting together right now, topped with a traffic alert …

  • Bob Coleman August 3, 2018 (1:51 pm)

    Thank you those who have contributed to your blog.  We have appreciated the details including those of the individual who helped our driver.  An update follows with some additional details we have at this time:

    8/3/2018 12:22 PM



    During the late evening of August 1, 2018 a Coleman Oil
    tanker truck carrying gasoline overturned on a surface street in an industrial
    area south of downtown Seattle, releasing approximately 3000 gallons of fuel to
    the roadway. 

    The Seattle Fire Department, Seattle Department of Transportation,
    Seattle Police Department, and the United States Coast Guard, along with
    Coleman Oil and the National Response Corporation, responded to the incident.  Our thanks go to these agencies for their
    guidance, oversight, and technical contributions to this effort.   We are also immensely grateful to the brave
    and selfless bystander who aided our driver.


    In the hours that followed the accident, incident responders
    placed foam on the spilled fuel, offloaded the fuel remaining on the overturned
    truck, and cleaned up the scene. 
    Although the investigation of potential impacts to the environment and
    necessary remedial actions is continuing, we are optimistic that no fuel
    reached the Duwamish River.


    At Coleman Oil Company a core value of ours is Environmental
    Stewardship.  We deeply regret that the
    accident involving our tanker truck resulted in a release to the environment,
    and will continue to work with the incident response agencies to investigate
    the accident and address the release. 


  • Guy Olson August 4, 2018 (12:44 pm)

    Hahahaha!! “Environmental Stewardship”!!! You make money off of transporting fuel with huge trucks and vehicles that burn gasoline!! Funniest thing I’ve read all day😂😂😂😂.

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