Jan 20, 2014 7:49 PM by azcentral.com
PHOENIX - A motorcyclist was critically hurt and and six others were injured after a semi-truck collision and fire on Interstate 17 north of Thomas Road, officials said.
The southbound lanes are expected to be closed for several hours, said Capt. Tony Mure with Phoenix Fire Department.
The incident occurred after gas canisters fell off a vehicle and began exploding. The motorcyclist swerved in front of the semi-truck and collided with the truck, Mure said. The motorcyclist was taken to a local hospital in extremely critical condition.
The vehicle became engulfed in flames just north of Thomas Road, according to state transportation officials.
The semi-truck also hit a Suburban carrying two adults and four children, ages 3 to 13, Mure said. Three of them were taken to hospital with non-life threatening injuries. The driver of the semi-truck was not harmed. Mure added.
Authorities are looking for the vehicle hauling the gas canisters, whose driver was not on scene when firefighters arrived, a spokesman with the fire department said.
The Arizona Department of Transportation said slowing started at Glendale Road and urged motorists to exit the freeway early and use Arizona 51 as an alternative.
The transportation agency said the ramps at Indian School and Camelback roads were closed.
Helicopter video showed the flames were extinguished before 3:45 p.m. but the truck was scorched.