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Truck fire prompts evacuations on Navajo reservation

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — An area of the Navajo reservation is under evacuation orders after a tractor-trailer carrying undisclosed hazardous materials exploded about 45 miles north of Gallup.

Navajo Nation spokesman Rick Abasta said the truck exploded around 6:40 a.m. while traveling along U.S. 491, prompting authorities to stop traffic in both directions and to call hazmat teams.

There is no detour for traffic heading north. Southbound traffic is being diverted onto Navajo Route 5 north of Newcomb and then onto N.M. 371, according to the state Transportation Department.

Abasta did not know what type of material the trailer was carrying or whether there were any injuries, but he said the Navajo Nation is taking every precaution, including setting up temporary shelters at two chapter houses and telling nearby residents to try and stay upwind of the fire.

In addition, residents are urged to do the following:

  • Turn off air intake in both their cars and homes, and close windows and doors.
  • Stay as far from the explosion as possible.
  • Contact a doctor if symptoms occur including respiratory problems, diarrhea or cramps, or changes in skin color.

Officials will set up boards warning drivers of the potential hazardous materials risk shortly, he said, and crews from both the Navajo Nation and other local agencies are rushing to the scene.

Those with questions or concerns are asked to call the Navajo Nation emergency center at any of the following phone numbers: (505) 371-8145, (505)371-8416 and (505) 371-8417.


This is a developing story. Additional information will be posted here as soon as it is available.