U.S. Route 322 to be shut down 2 to 4 hours

U.S. Route 322 will be closed to clean debris and remove a tractor trailer that crashed and caught fire Wednesday.

The closure began at about noon and will last between two and four hours. The westbound and eastbound lanes will be closed between Philipsburg and Port Matilda.

One person died due to the crash, which occurred at 1:09 a.m. Wednesday, according to Hope Fire Company.

State police at Philipsburg said in a release that the driver, who was not identified, was driving westbound near Port Lane in Rush Township when a bear entered the roadway. Police said the tanker hit the bear, lost control of the vehicle, crossed the center line of the road and overturned.

Initial dispatch advised a multiple vehicle crash with several explosions, entrapment and fire, Hope Fire Company said on Facebook. The crash closed Route 322 between Philipsburg and Port Matilda, but reopened for morning commute.

“State officials on site have advised that one lane of U.S. Route 322 is open at this time in the area of the state police barracks to allow morning commuters to travel through the area,” the post said. “PennDOT is on scene controlling the traffic flow. The road is expected to close again later this morning or this early this afternoon for several hours to allow the cargo from the trailer to be off-loaded and transported from the scene and to also allow the vehicle and debris to be removed.”

The road will be shut down again at an unknown time to transfer cargo from the tanker and to remove the vehicle from the crash site.

Chester Hill, Columbia and Alpha fire companies and Penn State HazMat were also dispatched to the scene.

Shawn Annarelli: 814-235-3928, @Shawn_Annarelli