Oregon Department of Transportation officials reopened Highway 22 Thursday night after the stretch of highway from Idanha to the Santiam Junction was closed following a fatal crash and fuel spill on Dec. 15.

A semi-tanker carrying 11,600 gallons of unleaded gasoline slid on ice near Idanha, overturned and caught fire, killing the driver, 58-year-old Ronald Edward Scurlock of Bend. Some of the fuel burned off in the fire, but an unknown amount spilled onto the road and into the river.

The intensely hot fire damaged about 300 feet of roadway.

Related: Gasoline not detected in N. Santiam River samples after fuel spill

Crews had to grind away the old pavement, pave over it and install a new guardrail before reopening the road to travelers between the Willamette Valley and Central Oregon.

"Crews have been working in difficult conditions the past several days to get the road open in time for the Christmas holidays," Torres said.

During the closure, officials urged drivers to stay on maintained roads and highways while navigating the mountain passes instead of relying on GPS units — some of which led travelers on to unmaintained, snowy forest service roads near Detroit.

Oregon State Police dispatchers received reports of drivers following routes suggested by GPS units and software that directed them to snow-covered forest roads.

The department says one driver became stuck in the snow while another ran out of gas attempting to navigate backroads.


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