After fiery tractor-trailer crash, northbound I-35 in KCK reopens nearly 20 hours later, officials say

KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Nearly 20 hours later, northbound I-35 in Kansas City, Kansas, has finally reopened Thursday night after a tractor-trailer crash and fire closed the interstate.

The closure was between 18th Street and 7th Street. According to the Kansas Highway Patrol online crash report, the tractor-trailer driver was in the right lane when he noticed what appeared to be a brown bag in his lane. The driver hit the brown object, but that caused him to lose control and hit a barrier wall just before midnight.

Officials on the scene said the truck was carrying battery acid in the first trailer and propane tanks in the second trailer. Officials said when the truck crashed, the fuel tank ruptured and sparked the fire.

Firefighters were able to compromise the battery acid as flames burned.

The driver, 51-year-old John Frederick from Stroud, Oklahoma, was taken to the hospital with non life-threatening injuries, and he has since been released.

The battalion chief on the scene said due to the time of day, injuries were minimal.

"Time of day played a factor because had it been during rush hour, could’ve been much different," KCK Battalion Chief Morris Letcher said.

While people driving by got a glimpse of the wreckage, folks who live nearby had a front row seat to all of the action. One witness, who lives near the scene of the crash, said he heard two explosions.

"It threw me out of bed," Larry Lopez told FOX4. "I thought right away it was a train -- something bad was happening. I check my house and my yard real quick, and I’m looking at all my windows. I didn’t know what’s going on."

“It was a loud explosion, they said. I didn’t hear it,” said Bernie Ruiz who lives right next to where the crash happened.

Ruiz may not have heard the explosion, but when he woke up, another sound startled him. The sound of silence replaced the normal sounds of cars whizzing by.

“When the highway is quiet, something happened,” Ruiz said. “Did the world blow up?”

Cleanup crews took their time Thursday in an effort to prevent a spill because containers are now very thin.