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Tania Dall / Eyewitness News
Email: tdall@wwltv.com | Twitter: @taniadall

NEWORLEANS-- Investigators are trying to figure out what caused a fuel tanker fire that shutdown a stretch of I-10 in New Orleans East during the evening commute on Tuesday.

The smoke and flames paralyzed interstate traffic keeping I-10 closed for hours.

'Lucky for that person and all the other people that were behind this. They said the fire was running on the interstate. We're lucky no one else was involved in this,' said New Orleans EMS Deputy Chief Kenneth Bouvier.

A foamy, wet, charred mess is what was left Tuesday night of an 18-wheeler carrying gallons of fuel near the I-10 andI-510 merger in New Orleans near Little Woods.

Authorities say the 24-year-old driver of the truck says she was merging onto the eastbound lanes of I-10 when she tried to avoid another car that allegedly cut her off. That's when the driver told responding officers her truck overturned.

Cell phone video shot by Eyewitness Tonya Geissler shows the billowing smoke seen from miles away.

New Orleans fire, police and EMS crews responded to a 911 call around 4:30 p.m. Authorities say when emergency responders got to the scene, they found the driver, who had freed herself from the wreck before the tanker burst into flames.

Officials confirm the tanker was carrying 8600 gallons of fuel that caught fire.

'We're still investigating and that crash report is going to be investigated thoroughly. We do have a witness that was behind the 18-wheeler that we're talking to,' said NOPD Lt. Anthony Micheau about some reports that the tanker driver was speeding.

As crews continued to spray foam on the crash site and transportation officials reviewed damage done to the interstate Tuesday night, drivers trying to get home searched for whatever detour they could find.

'I've got a terrible headache,' said one woman, who said she was stuck in traffic for an hour and a half.

'I heard about it an hour before I got off work. So I called my dad. I said I don't want to be stuck in traffic. He knew how to get around everything,' Brittany Reed said.

'I've been trying to get to Slidell for the last hour and a half. Needless to say I missed my workout class,' said one Slidell resident.

The NOFD says the driver of the tanker was taken to New Orleans East Hospital with injuries to her face, left arm and right knee. No one else was hurt.

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