Man killed in tanker explosion ID'd - WNEM TV 5

Man killed in tanker explosion ID'd

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TUSCOLA COUNTY, MI (WNEM) -

Investigators have released the name of the man killed in the Tuscola County tanker explosion this week.

The Tuscola County Sheriff's Department identified him as Travis Bielat, 26, from Allen Park, near Detroit.  Officials say he was transferring a load of ethanol from the Poet Refinery in Caro to a plant in Flint when the accident occurred. Tracks at the scene indicated the vehicle left the roadway and struck a tree, causing flames to shoot 150 to 200 feet in the air.

The company that the man was driving the truck for is called Petroleum Transport, based out of Romulus, MI.

Richville Fire Chief Eric Brown said the truck was carrying about 13,000 gallons of fuel.

"When we got here, the flames were so bad and the truck was so badly burnt, we didn't know what it was to start with," says Brown.

Brown says firefighters arrived and assessed the environmental impact of putting out the blaze, making the decision to let it burn out.

Once crews identified the fire as coming from a fuel tank, they realized the hazards to the surrounding environment had the potential to be an even bigger disaster.

The Department of Environmental Quality visited the scene and said the first responders handled the situation the best they could have done.

The flames continued for nearly seven hours.

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