An order to keep residents indoors has been issued in a Tennessee county and some surrounding neighborhoods are being evacuated, after a commercial semi-truck carrying swimming pool cleaning supplies crashed into another truck, officials said.
Authorities in Rutherford County are working to evacuate residents in the Buchanan Estates neighborhood, as well as Rankin Road and Aldridge Road. The evacuation is about one mile downwind from the accident, officials said.
"If you are smelling a slight smell that’s okay," Tim Hooker, Assistant Director at Rutherford County Emergency Management Agency cautioned this morning. "Just get out of the area."
The evacuation is a precaution because emergency workers plan to dump water on the chemicals, which will cause another plume of toxic gas, authorities said.
Wind could could potentially pose a danger to residents, as it pushes toxic air further from the crash site, but authorities noted the current is moving slowly this morning.
The semi caught fire on the side of the highway near the tree line, according to a Rutherford County 911 dispatcher and the Tennessee Highway Patrol. Officials believe the truck was carrying chemical cleaners like chlorine tablets, oxidizers and other corrosives. The product of the fire was a likely toxic plume of smoke that could be dangerous for people to inhale.
Prior to the evacuation, authorities had asked people within a one square mile radius of the accident to stay indoors as a precaution if the smoke was toxic.
This order applied to all residents and businesses within the affected area, which is located near a large residential neighborhood as well as farm land.
Westbound lanes on the interstate I-24 were closed as crews worked to contain the spill early Wednesday. A 911 alert first came in at 2:49 a.m. last night.
HAZMAT crews as well as Rutherford County, Tennessee Emergency Management and Tennessee Highway Patrol officials are working the scene.
No buses will be allowed into this area to pick children up for school, Hooker added.