A section of Interstate 95 in Northeast Philadelphia collapsed around 6:30 AM Sunday morning after a large fire started under an overpass near Cottman Avenue. Officials indicated that a fuel tanker may have been the source of the fire, causing part of the northbound lanes to buckle. The southbound lanes also appear weakened by the blaze and could be structurally compromised.  

Eyewitnesses reported flames shooting up from the roadway as thick black smoke filled the sky. As a result, officials closed a two-mile radius of I-95 in both directions. According to the City of Philadelphia Managing Director's Office, it will take quite some time to address the roadway collapse, which is part of the main arterial roadway running north and south along the east coast of the United States. 

While a fuel tanker fire appears to be the source of the roadway collapse, no cause has yet been determined for the fire itself. Before the fire, several explosions were heard in the area, with people reporting manhole covers "flipping like coins." The area contains several sewer systems and a water treatment plant. Environmentally it will be hard to contain the chemicals if they spill, which could leak into the nearby Delaware River. 

In addition to the potential for chemical spillage, Meteorologist Tammie Souza of CBS News in Philadelphia says winds are blowing to the north. As a result, dangerous airborne chemicals, including acids, sulfates, and nitrates, are being carried to the north and east of the city. Particulate matter, such as dust, soot, oils, and other chemicals, is also posing health concerns related to poor air quality and may leave a greasy oil film on anything in the path of the smoke. As a result, people should stay indoors until air quality improves. 

Currently, there are no known injuries or fatalities. The roadway collapse is the first we've seen since one in Pittsburgh a year ago but will have a more serious, far-reaching effect due to the importance of the I-95 corridor. Traffic in Philadelphia could be snarled worse than in Portland, Oregon during a snowstorm for an undetermined amount of time.  

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