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Ethanol tanker erupts in fire following collision (UPDATE)

a tanker truck carrying a load of ethanol erupts in flames after colliding with a car on a southern Wisconsin highway Thursday, July 16, 2015, near Horicon, Wis. The driver of the semi, which rolled over and ignited, escaped through a door at the top of the overturned tanker as flames burned around him, said witness Nate Hamilton. The man had a head laceration and burns to his arm, Hamilton said. (Joseph W. Adamson, Horicon Police Department via AP)

A tanker truck carrying a load of ethanol erupts in flames Thursday after colliding with a car on Highway 33 near Horicon. (Joseph W. Adamson, Horicon Police Department via AP)

HORICON, Wis. (AP) — A tanker truck carrying ethanol erupted into a ball of flames that shot 40 feet in the air after colliding with a car on a southern Wisconsin highway Thursday, sheriff’s officials and witnesses said.

The driver of the semi, which rolled over and ignited, escaped through a door at the top of the overturned tanker as flames burned around him, said witness Nate Hamilton.

“He rolled off the truck and hit his head on the concrete. He just walked toward me and he was kind of shocked,” said Hamilton, 33, of Milwaukee. The man had a head laceration and burns to his arm, Hamilton said.

The Chevy Malibu that collided with the tanker on Highway 33 near Horicon about 8:30 a.m. landed about 200 feet down the road and did not catch fire, said Dodge County Sheriff Dale Schmidt. The driver was extricated from the car, suffered serious injuries and was taken by medical helicopter to an area hospital, Schmidt said. The male drivers were alone in their vehicles.

Deputies closed a 2- to 3-mile section of the highway in both directions because of the fire, which was out by noon. The road reopened around 6 p.m. Thursday, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation said.

Hamilton was on his way to a roofing job in Beaver Dam with a friend when he came around a bend and encountered the raging fire.

“It was so many flames that we couldn’t even see around the truck,” Hamilton said. There was a series of small explosions as the fire burned and driver made his escape, he said.

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