By Amanda Rogers
An early morning car crash triggered a large fire and led to the evacuation of a south Mansfield neighborhood Wednesday.
"A little after 1 this morning, for unknown reasons a vehicle ran into valves for natural gas," said Mansfield's Assistant Fire Chief Jeff Smith. "The car caught fire and the driver was transferred by CareFlite to Parkland (Memorial Hospital) for severe burns."
Mansfield Police had received a call about a wrong-way driver on traveling at a high rate of speed southbound in the northbound lanes of Highway 360 at Ragland Road. The vehicle was captured on the North Texas Tollway Authority camera system, which alerted a Texas DPS Trooper assigned to Highway 360. The vehicle continued to drive the wrong way and left the roadway as the driver approached the US 287 southbound service road and collided with a natural gas pipeline that was approximately 125 feet off the roadway, according to the police.
The four-door sedan hit the natural gas valves at 2801 Barrington Way, near the intersection of US 287 and Texas 360. The male driver was the only one in the vehicle, and the only injury, Smith said. The driver is in critical condition, he said.
"We had to wait for Si Energy to shut off the valve," Smith said. "We evacuated the Somerset neighborhood. Once the fire was extinguished and we checked the air quality, the residents were allowed to return about 4 a.m."
Residents for a mile radius around the accident were evacuated and relocated, some to nearby Annette Perry Elementary School.
Charges are pending based upon the outcome of a police investigation. Investigators believe that speed and failure to drive in the correct lane played a contributing factor in this crash.
The vehicle is a total loss, Smith said.
Mansfield, Texas, is a booming city, nestled between Fort Worth and Dallas, but with a personality all its own. The city’s 76,247 citizens enjoy an award-winning school district, vibrant economy, historic downtown, prize-winning park system and community focus spread across 37 square miles. The Mansfield Record is dedicated to reporting city and school news, community happenings, police and fire news, business, food and restaurants, parks and recreation, library, historical archives and special events. The city’s only online newspaper launched in September 2020 and will offer introductory advertising rates for the first three months at three different rates.