Fiery crash closes highway through Cle Elum

— State Highway 97 was closed through town for more than 13 hours Saturday after a crash ignited a gasoline tanker.

According to the Washington State Patrol, a pickup truck driver attempted to make an illegal U-turn at 8:44 a.m. Saturday when it was struck by a gasoline tanker.

Pickup driver, George C. Chambers, 64, of Gig Harbor, was injured and taken by ambulance to Kittitas Valley Community Hospital in Ellensburg, the patrol said. He was not wearing a seat belt.

Fuel truck driver Joseph L. Stead, 56, of Redmond, was injured and airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, the patrol said. He was wearing a seatbelt.

The patrol reported that Chambers attempted to make an illegal U-turn in his 1995 Chevrolet dually pickup in front of Stead's 2009 Kenworth tanker truck and trailer.

The vehicles collided in the eastbound lane, causing the tanker to overturn and burst into flames, the patrol said.

The fuel burned for about 13-and-a-half hours, the patrol said, noting charges may be pending.


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