A fire involving a tractor trailer carrying hazardous materials on Interstate 495 in Andover, Massachusetts, shut down all northbound lanes through much of the evening Monday.
State police warned drivers to expect major delays after the entire northbound side of I-495, just north of Interstate 93 by exit 40, was closed as a state hazmat team and crews from the Andover Fire Department responded to the scene.
"Andover was hit twice today. First by the storm, and resulting in tree, home, vehicle and power grid damage, and second, by a serious chemical fire on a tractor trailer truck on 495 that took crews away from the cleanup and in-town efforts," Town Manager Andrew Flanagan said in a press conference. "While today's been difficult, the hard work of our residents and town employees has already made a difference. We're going to continue the work. Your resources are at work on your behalf."
Officials said the fire is believed to have been caused by an apparent reaction of chemicals in the tractor trailer's cargo area.
The fire finally died out around 5:30 p.m., but authorities are waiting for two barrels with hazardous material to cool down before removing it and reopening the highway. Crews were working to offload the hazardous cargo.
Initially, the two right lanes were shut down, but state police eventually shut down the entire northbound side of the highway. Around 8:15 p.m., state police announced that the left lane had been opened, though the right two lanes and the breakdown lane remained closed.
Although MassDOT officials say northbound detours are in place, drivers are urged to plan ahead and avoid the route, since the area will continue to be blocked off during the evening commute.
All traffic on I-495 northbound is currently being diverted to I-93 northbound at exit 40B, according to MassDOT. Drivers can then take exit 48 on I-93 to Route 213, which will lead them to rejoin I-495 northbound.
The off-ramps from I-93 north- and soutbound to I-495 northbound at exit 44 in Andover were also closed as crews responded to the fire.
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Fire department and state bomb squad officials are also monitoring the air quality in nearby neighborhoods; however, state police say air quality issues have not been detected.