Fiery tanker truck accident on Interstate 81 in Smyth County - FOX 21/27 WFXR Roanoke/WWCW Lynchburg News, Weather

UPDATE: Fiery tanker truck accident on Interstate 81 in Smyth County

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UPDATE: Virginia State Police tell WSLS three men died in a multi-vehicle accident on Interstate-81 in Smyth County.

The accident happened around 3:00 Wednesday afternoon in the southbound lanes at mile marker 54.

According to state police, a tanker truck loaded with 8,500 gallons of gasoline overturned. The tanker slid into a pick-up truck, exploded and then crashed into another truck.

All three vehicles involved caught fire.

Two drivers died at the scene; the driver of the tanker truck, Frank A. Skeens Jr., 48, of Castlewood, Va., and the driver of the pickup truck, Trevor Blankenship, 30, of Lebanon, Va.

The driver of the third vehicle died on the way to the hospital. State police are still in the process of notifying his family before they release his name.

As of 11 p.m. Wednesday one southbound lane was closed, backing up traffic for four miles.

VDOT is assessing the condition of the pavement due to the intensity of the explosion and subsequent fire.

The cause of the crash is under investigation.


A tanker truck accident has closed both the northbound and southbound lanes of Interstate 81 in Smyth County.

Virginia State Police say the tanker truck caught fire in the southbound lane.

Due to heavy smoke, lanes in both directions of the I-81 at mile marker 55 are closed to through traffic.

State police were called to the scene around 3 P.M. Wednesday afternoon.

One person was flown from the scene of the accident.

We'll have more updates on this accident as they become available.