DENVER — One person died and another was hospitalized after a vehicle and a tanker truck crashed on Colorado’s main east-west highway near Denver on Thursday, sending up a fireball and a huge plume of black smoke, authorities said.

The crash happened on the westbound Interstate 70 near Morrison, 18 miles (30 kilometers) west of Denver, where the highway begins its climb into the mountains. It wasn’t immediately known what caused the crash or what the tanker was carrying, but clean-up efforts are expected to keep the highway closed in both directions through the afternoon, the Colorado Department of Transportation said.

A person in a vehicle died and the truck driver was hospitalized, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Jacki Kelley said.

The Colorado State Patrol, which is investigating the crash, did not immediately have details on what happened. However, the truck was pulled off on the shoulder of I-70 before the crash happened, Trooper Gabriel Moltrer said.

A photo released by the sheriff’s office showed the charred remains of a vehicle smashed into the back of the tanker truck.

The sheriff’s office originally said that up to six other vehicles besides the tanker were involved based on reports of vehicles stopped on the highway, but it was only the truck and one other vehicle, Kelley said.

The fire from the crash set off some small grass fires on either side of the interstate but they were quickly extinguished, she said.



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