CAMDEN, Ark. (KATV) — The Ouachita Department of Emergency Management has confirmed one person is dead and three more are injured after a tanker truck carrying ammonium nitrate exploded on Highway 278 just west of Camden, according to content partner KATV in Little Rock.
"It took out a major area of about a 150-250 diameter area from the actual explosion," said County Judge Robbie McKadoo
KTHV in Little Rock is reporting that the driver of the tanker truck was killed in the explosion and three firefighters were taken to the hospital with unknown injuries.
Arkansas State Police released a statement saying they believe the remains at the scene are those of the driver, Randall McDougal, 63, of El Dorado. The remains will be sent to the Arkansas State Crime Lab for positive identification.
"The Ouachita County Sherrifs department notified all the residents in the area to start the evacuation procedures so things worked well this morning," McKadoo said.
ASP said McDougal was employed by Blann Trucking Company of Hampton, Arkansas.
Area firefighters responded to the scene where police say McDougal was trying to put out flames coming from the truck's brakes.
According to the press release, as firefighters began to evacuate residents in the area, they witnessed the driver return to the truck. As he returned, the truck exploded.
According to the Arkansas Department of Transportation, the explosion occurred just after 7:30 a.m. Wednesday (March 27).
All lanes are blocked at this time. The Department of Transportation says Highway 278 will remain closed until further notice due to the explosion which left an approximately 15-foot deep crater in the road.
Highway 57 and Highway 24 were also closed, but Highway 24 has since been re-opened.
Ammonium nitrate is typically used in fertilizer and explosives. In high concentrations, ammonium nitrate dust can cause respiratory tract irritation.
Arkansas State Police spokesman Bill Sadler says no other vehicles are believed to be involved, though he says some residents of nearby homes reported that their windows were blown out from the blast.
Investigators are still trying to figure out what exactly caused the deadly explosion.
Camden is a town of about 12,000 in Ouachita County, which is near the Louisiana border.