COVINGTON, Ky. — Just before 3 a.m. Nov. 11, two semitrailers collided as they headed northbound on the Brent Spence Bridge. The first truck jackknifed, causing the second truck -- hauling the highly flammable and corrosive chemical potassium hydroxide -- to crash into the first.
The ensuing inferno burned for several hours at temperatures reaching 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit. The fire was so hot that first responders could not approach the scene until the fire subsided to safe, approachable temperatures.
"I've never dealt with anything like this," one Covington police officer is heard saying in body camera footage obtained by WCPO.
The first task was to retrieve and divert the traffic that accumulated on the northbound approach to the bridge, which carries Interstates 71 and 75 across the Ohio River between Cincinnati and Covington. Then, police and fire officers could finally see the wreckage laid across the lower deck of the double-decker bridge.
"I don't know what we're standing in," said one first responder, as he surveyed the two semitrailers, melted down to their twisted frames, hardly recognizable after the blaze had subsided.
Here's a look at some of the first glimpses of the crash that closed one of the region and the nation's most important interstate corridors: