Gasoline tanker fire closes Australian highway

SYDNEY — Australian firefighters took hours to extinguish flames after a gasoline tanker caught fire on Friday, cutting traffic on a busy highway and forcing evacuations of nearby homes.

The tanker carrying 36,000 liters (9,500 gallons) of gasoline erupted in flames mid-morning after the driver pulled over on the Princes Highway west of the east coast city of Wollongong, a police statement said.

Fire and Rescue New South Wales Superintendent Norman Buckley said there were no injuries and 16 residents were evacuated as a precaution by the time the fire was extinguished by 100 firefighters spraying flame-retardant foam.

The fuel tank never ruptured and much of the fuel remained inside after the flames were extinguished, Buckley said.

The fire was contained to the cabin and fuel vapor rising from the tank, he said.

Buckley said he did not know what caused the blaze.

Traffic will continue to be disrupted on the main route between Wollongong and Sydney as a salvage crew drains the remaining gasoline from the tanker, he said.

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