Tractor-trailer carrying 11,000 gallons of gas crashes and ignites on Route 24 in Fall River

A tractor-trailer hauling 11,000 gallons of gasoline overturned and caught fire on Route 24 in Fall River today, snarling the morning commute in Southeastern Massachusetts for at least two hours as public safety agencies asked residents near the crash site to voluntarily evacuate.

The operator of the truck, Lisa M. Korch, 46, of Danielson, Conn. was rushed to Rhode Island Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, State Police said. The vehicle is owned by J.P. Noonan of West Bridgewater, State Police said.

The crash occurred around 7:30 a.m. as the driver was heading north on Route 24 and was preparing to use Exit 5 onto Route 6. The crash forced the closure of Route 24 in both directions for roughly three hours.

Route 24 southbound has now fully reopened. As of 10:30 a.m., State Police said that the right lane and breakdown lane of Route 24 northbound would remain closed, but other lanes had reopened.

The cause of the crash remains under investigation, state officials said. The potential environmental impact is being assessed by the state Department of Environmental Protection, officials said.

The crash, which generated thick black smoke, took place near Bristol Community College, Bishop Connolly High School, and two Fall River public schools. The college and the Catholic high school held classes as scheduled; all Fall River schools are closed today for professional development. Staff at one elementary school relocated to Durfee High School because of the smoke.

Public safety officials did not order evacuations, but suggested that people living within 200 yards of the fire consider leaving their homes.

John R. Ellement can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @JREbosglobe.