Brevard County Fire-Rescue personnel, hazardous material teams and a Kennedy Space Center crew cleaned up a fatal tanker explosion at State Road 528 and State Road 3/North Courtenay Parkway on Merritt Island.


Traffic was blocked on SR 528 and diverted to U.S. Highway 1 and Interstate 95 for several hours, but all the roadways except the overpass at Courtenay Parkway have reopened, making a smooth detour for motorists.

Brevard County Fire rescue said a truck exploded on the State Road 528 overpass on top of Courtenay Parkway around 3:30 p.m. Friday. Fire dropped down onto two vehicles under the bridge, but none of those passengers was injured.

The Florida Highway Patrol said the driver of the vehicle that exploded and the driver in a pickup truck died in the explosion.

Bill Dressel, of Palm Bay, had just exited SR 528 and crossed the Barge Canal on State Road 3 when he looked up and saw flames fill his rearview mirror.

"I saw nothing but flames behind me," he said. "It was massive, they had to be 20 feet in the air and rolling out, like it was being fed. It was crazy. I still have goosebumps talking about it. It kind of puts everything in perspective, had I gone a little slower on 528, would I have been engulfed in flames?"

FHP said the first vehicle leaked some sort of flammable fluid and Fire Rescue and crews from KSC cleaned up the spill.

The contents of the tanker are not yet known, but the fire has been extinguished.

While the fire was burning, residents were asked to remain indoors within half a mile of the crash. Motorists are encouraged to avoid the area.

The bridge was damaged and will be shut down for a while, according to FHP.

Kim Montes of FHP said officials are working to create convenient detours for motorists until the bridge is repaired.

The Brevard County School Board said some students were delayed in getting home on their buses due to traffic congestion.