Just after 10 am Sunday morning a Ford Ranger pickup was southbound on Fostoria Road approaching SH 105. According to witnesses the driver failed to stop for the stop sign and turned out in front of an 18-wheeler. The crash caused the Ford to spin across the lanes of SH 105 and come to a rest on the westbound shoulder. The 18-wheeler which was eastbound left the roadway and landed on it’s side in the ditch.
Splendora Fire Department responded along with MCHD. The injuries to both drivers who were transported to the hospital were not serious as the 18-wheeler had been at reduced speed.
Once crews were able to check the vehicles they discovered the truck was loaded with 44,000 pounds of Potassium Hydroxide, a very caustic chemical that when comes in contact with water produces a very caustic vapor cloud. It can also generate enough heat to ignite combustible items close by.
Potassium Hydroxide is used to manufacture batteries, fertilizers and hair spray. It is also used for a food stabilizer and thickener. It is also found in oven cleaners, denture cleaners, soaps, and drain cleaners. Potassium Hydroxide soaps are considered soft soaps which are said to be better for the skin. It is also used to dissolve warts and cuticles.
DPs Troopers and Montgomery County Sheriff’s Deputies worked traffic control throughout the day. Even with them on the scene drivers caused several problems. At one point due to the possibly of the chemicals letting off a vapor cloud all roads were closed. Several vehicles, not aware of the danger but in a hurry decided to cross the ditch on SH 105 and drive through a large open field to pass the scene. Another woman in a small blue car almost struck a deputy directing traffic as she , using both hands while her vehicle was still in motion started photographing the scene with her smartphone.
With rain still in the area Splendora Fire Fighters requested Woodlands and Conroe Hazmat teams to respond to the scene. No product had been spilled but the truck was over a ditch with water.
Milstead Heavy Duty responded to the scene with two wreckers. Also responding were Masters Hazmat and Hazmat International. SH 105 was closed completely as crews placed giant air bags resembling Halloween pumpkins under the trailer of the truck. Using both wreckers they were able to right the truck, however as it came to rest on the road surface the trailer split.
Now posing another problem of closing the road and additional 8 hours to offload the 2000 pound bags of chemical, Milstead decided to attempt to move the entire load slowly to Fostoria Road in order to re-open SH 105.
By 6 pm that was accomplished as crews then started the slow process of offloading the chemicals and loading them on another truck. Several of the bags had torn causing crews to repackage them.
Fostoria Road north of SH 105 remains closed until almost 10 pm as the transfer is made.