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Fiery I-5 crash kills one, burns for over 24 hours

The flames from a fiery crash that killed the driver of a gasoline truck are seen in this image from a WSDOT traffic camera. (WSDOT image)

Fire was still burning over 24 hours after a crash on I-5 early Sunday involving a fully loaded gasoline tanker that left the driver dead.

The State Patrol says a 21-year-old Renton man lost control of his Nissan Altima southbound on I-5 at about 2 a.m. near Federal Way and struck a barrier, sparking a chain reaction.

A Toyota Camry carrying three people in their early 20's hit the Altima, then the truck driven by Joseph E. Bartkowski of Sumner, slammed into the Camry, went off the road, rolled over, smashed through a sound wall and crashed into a nearby home, bursting into flames.

Trooper Julie Judson says the driver died at the scene. The three people in the Camry were taken to St. Francis Hospital in Federal Way and treated for minor injuries.

The driver who started the crash was booked into the King County Jail on investigation of vehicular homicide.

"At this point, we do believe alcohol or drugs may be a factor in this crash," Judson says.

The state Department of Ecology says over 9,000 gallons of aviation gasoline spilled in the crash. DOE said there didn't appear to be any immediate safety or health concerns after on-site monitoring, KING 5 reports.

Judson says the crash damaged as many as nine sound walls.

About the Author


Josh Kerns is an award winning reporter/anchor and host of KIRO Radio's Seattle Sounds (Sunday afternoons 5-6p) and a digital content producer for MyNorthwest.com.

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