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Tanker Accident Forces Evacuation

October 6, 1998

WOBURN, Mass. (AP) _ A tanker truck carrying refrigerated liquid natural gas overturned, forcing the evacuation of about 300 people and the closure of one of Boston’s busiest commuter highways.

The driver of the truck was killed after colliding with another vehicle Monday evening on Route 128 about 10 miles north of Boston near Interstate 93, police said.

Authorities evacuated people within a 1,000-foot perimeter of the crash as a precaution against a potential explosion even though the tanker didn’t rupture, said Jim Forsythe of state police communications. The Red Cross opened a shelter at a school for the evacuees.

Woburn Police Chief Philip Mahoney said a one-mile stretch of the highway, known for its concentration of high-technology companies, remained closed in both directions through the morning commute. A commuter rail station was also closed.

Workers this morning unloaded some of the 10,500 gallons of gas and righted the truck. Though the gas never leaked, Forsythe said, a fuel tank on the side of the cab burst, setting the cab on fire.

Water was hosed onto the tanker to keep the natural gas cool.

The 62-year-old truck driver, from Saugus, wasn’t immediately identified. A woman, the only person in the other vehicle, wasn’t seriously hurt.

Two hotels were among homes and businesses evacuated. Darlene Pinn-Wilson, who was in town on business from Lawnside, N.J., said state police knocked on her Marriott Courtyard room door at 3 a.m. and told her she had to leave.

School buses took hotel guests to the school shelter to spend the night.

``I slept in the library. My headboard was a huge bookcase,″ Pinn-Wilson said. ``I was very comfortable. On the cot, believe it or not, I was very comfortable.″

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