Flaming Butter, Chips, Fuel Mix Closes Interstate

Crews Prepare To Reopen Road

A sticky mix of potato chips, melted butter and diesel fuel burst into flames following a wreck, forcing the closure of northbound lanes of Interstate 465 on Indianapolis' west side for several hours Tuesday.

Three tractor-trailers and a pickup truck collided at about 2:30 a.m. just north of Washington Street, 6News' Julie Pursley reported.


An engineer checked the integrity of the road following the fire and an extensive cleanup and determined that it was safe for travel, but crews planned to resurface about 200 feet of pavement.

Crews spread cement dust on the slippery pavement, preparing the road to reopen early Tuesday afternoon.

Police said a tractor-trailer rear-ended a pickup truck as traffic slowed in a construction zone. That set off a chain reaction wreck that also collected two more tractor-trailers, all of which caught fire.

"One of the semis involved was carrying a load of regular butter," said Jay Wasson of INDOT. "Because of the fire, it actually liquefied the butter."

Police said all of the grease from the chips and butter mixed with hundreds of gallons of spilled diesel to fuel the massive fire.

All of the drivers escaped with minor injuries, but the fire raged for about 90 minutes, charring the interstate.

"It looks like the road is fairly intact," Wasson said. "The fire department did a great job of fire suppression down on the roadway to try to prevent as much damage."

A front-end loader was used to scrape the debris, covered in melted butter, off the interstate.

Marion County Health Department officials said crews built a dike to prevent runoff from leaking into storm water drains and nearby neighborhoods.

"The diesel was probably consumed in the fire, because it was such a hot fire and it burned for quite a long time," said Sarah Jonker, of the health department.

INDOT officials said repairs will need to be made at some point, likely when the road isn't as congested.