Interstate 70 in Ohio County Shut Down Due to Vapor in Wheeling Tunnel

Photo by Jessica Broverman
Vehicles traveling west on Interstate 70 are met with backed-up traffic Wednesday morning after a fire extinguisher believed to have fallen off a truck produced vapor inside the Wheeling Tunnel.

Photo by Jessica Broverman Vehicles traveling west on Interstate 70 are met with backed-up traffic Wednesday morning after a fire extinguisher believed to have fallen off a truck produced vapor inside the Wheeling Tunnel.

Traffic in the westbound lanes of Interstate 70 came to a halt Wednesday morning due to vapor from a fallen fire extinguisher hampering visibility inside the Wheeling Tunnel.

Drivers began exiting their vehicles in an effort to discover what occurred in the tunnel. A few drivers put their vehicles in reverse to escape the tie-up, while most were forced to wait until police and fire officials handled the situation.

A driver on Interstate 70 called police at about 10:25 a.m. regarding the vapor due to the decreased visibility.

“The cloud it left behind caused drivers to not see the road. … It was thought to be a fire just because of the smoke, and basically it was a dust cloud,” said Wheeling Fire Chief Larry Helms.

West Virginia Division of Highways employee Dave Millhouse arrived on the scene and advised there was not a fire inside the tunnel.

“It was a fire extinguisher that produced white powder,” Millhouse said.

Helms believes the fire extinguisher had fallen off a vehicle traveling through the tunnel.

“We assume it fell off a passing truck because there was no one that claimed it,” he said.

Fire officials plan to review video surveillance from inside the tunnel to confirm the source of the fire extinguisher.

Traffic began flowing through the tunnel again at about 10:53 a.m., after the haze had dissipated enough to restore visibility. No injuries were reported.

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