A tanker truck carrying fuel crashed and exploded Saturday in Frederick County, killing the driver, unleashing a fireball that damaged several homes in a nearby suburban neighborhood and forced the closure of Route 15 in both directions, state and local officials said.

Brad D., who lives on Apple Avenue, parallel to the highway. “Flames were shooting 40 feet high,” Hammond said. “The explosion shook his house and set a neighbor’s house on fire. Strong winds whipped up a large cloud of black smoke and sent flames toward several homes and vehicles, damaging or destroying them within minutes.”

“I was watching it inch closer,” he said. “It just kept going.”

Maryland State Police have not released the identity of the truck driver in the single-vehicle crash. There were no other injuries or casualties, they said.

The truck crashed into a tree on northbound Route 15 about half a mile north of Rosemont Avenue and burst into flames around midnight. Six houses and five vehicles were damaged in the fire, state police said. Authorities are still investigating the cause of the truck crash.

“My heart goes out to the victims of this tragedy in Frederick,” Maryland Gov. Wes Moore (D) said in a statement. He said several government agencies are assisting, including the state’s fire marshal, transportation and environmental departments.

Frederick County Fire and Rescue Services Division She was called around noon to reports of a house fire on Schley Avenue, followed by additional calls of a crash on Route 15 near Rosemont and Schley avenues, spokeswoman Sarah Campbell said in a statement. Firefighters who arrived at the scene found the truck engulfed in flames, while three nearby houses and three vehicles were engulfed in flames. Calls for help went out to multiple jurisdictions.

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Firefighters, using fire-fighting foam and water, had all the flames under control within 40 minutes, Campbell said. He said the county’s hazmat team, public works crews and state Department of Environment officials determined the spill was contained before it reached Carroll Creek.

Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service spokesman Pete Brinker, who dispatched units to the fire, said the tanker was a Sheets fuel truck carrying gasoline.

By 2:30 p.m., southbound traffic on Route 15 had resumed, a state police spokesman said, while the northbound lanes were expected to remain closed until the evening.

Hammond said he was in the kitchen at the back of a brick house that has been in his family for decades when the tanker exploded. He ran to the front window when he saw the fireball and the smoke. Her living room became so hot when she tried to call 911 that she ran out the back door and saw flames shooting north from down the street, engulfing a house next to hers and firefighters pouring water on it.

After the fire was extinguished, only the black hull of the tanker truck and the charred shadow of a tree next to it remained.

Hammond, whose family has lived in the home since the 1950s, said the flames blistered the paint, broke a window in the attic and some of the siding on the roof, but was otherwise thankful his property was not badly damaged.

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“It’s solid,” Hammond said. “It’s a castle.”

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