Police identify victims in I-85 deadly massive tanker fire in Gwinnett County

All lanes of Interstate 85 in Gwinnett County have re-opened and the scene is clear after a deadly tanker blaze happened Saturday morning, authorities confirmed.

Fire crews worked throughout the morning to clean up the remains that blocked all lanes of I-85 for hours.

Police have confirmed two fatalities in the explosive accident. (Sebastian Hernandez Rodriguez)

Police identified the victims as 31-year-old Emerald Lynn of Norcross and 44-year-old truck driver Yonas Worku of Snellville.

Gwinnett County's Accident Investigation Unit determined the accident happened after a Volkswagen Passat was stopped in a lane after being involved in a separate accident and the tanker truck which was carrying fuel was not able to stop for an unknown reason and hit the Volkswagen.

Gwinnett County officials say the crews got to the blaze near the exit to Jimmy Carter Boulevard around 7:50 a.m. When they arrived at the scene, officers saw a large explosion from the area and an overturned tanker truck and passenger car in flames.

Fire crews responded to the scene and quickly shut down both sides of I-85, diverting traffic away from the interstate.

Georgia DOT cameras caught fire crews on the scene working to douse the huge blaze, which was belching immense amounts of smoke. Witnesses told FOX 5 they heard three loud explosions before seeing the flames and smoke shoot up from the interstate.

"Almost left the car keys, at that point we weren't messing around, they said 'Go, go quick," evacuees David and Melissa Powell said. "There were a couple of explosions on the other side of the highway so we knew it was time to go."

During the attempt to extinguish the blaze, police say the then-unidentified flammable liquid contained in the tanker drained into a nearby sewer, leading to fire spreading underground, crossing the interstate, and leaving through a sewer drain near Ole Mexican Foods on Crescent Drive. This spread multiple fires and smokestacks around the interstate.

In response to the spreading fires, officers evacuated multiple drivers from their vehicles on foot. Businesses on access roads nearby were also evacuated while crews used controlled fires to burn off the fuel.

Around 10 a.m. fire crews working at the scene were able to use 100 gallons of firefighting foam to contain the fire to the accident scene and completely extinguish the major blazes. Interstate 85 southbound has now been opened back up. I-85 northbound is still closed as officials assess the damage.

The tanker was containing in total around 7,500 gallons of gasoline and 1,000 gallons of diesel fuel. 

All lanes were blocked as fire crews respond to a massive vehicle blaze.

Officers have confirmed two fatalities were recovered from the burned shells of the vehicles involved in the crash. 

Anyone driving through the area was asked to take an alternate route while the cleanup was going on.

In a Tweet, around 3:22 p.m. Gwinnett County Police confirmed two northbound lanes had re-opened and the remaining lanes should be back open shortly after 6 p.m.

Dawson Boulevard was scheduled to re-open soon as well, but officials warned that Crescent Drive would remain closed for several hours.