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Semi overturns on US 285 spilling hot tar

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Boiling tar leaks from an overturned tanker on U.S. 285 south of Roswell and near the Relief Route Friday. The driver was not injured, according to Lt. Mark Soriano of the New Mexico State Police. (Alex Ross Photo)

A semi hauling a tanker of tar on U.S. 285 overturned south of Roswell Friday, temporarily closing off a portion of the highway and the Relief Route to traffic in both lanes.

The driver of the semi was not injured in the single-vehicle crash, but was cited for failure to maintain lane of travel and careless driving, Lt. Mark Soriano of the New Mexico State Police said Friday.

State Police were called to investigate the accident at U.S. 285 mile marker 105 at about 7:45 a.m.

Investigation of the incident later revealed the semi was traveling north from Artesia en route to Glendale, Arizona, when the driver attempted to turn west onto the Relief Route. When the turn was being made, the weight in the tanker shifted, causing the tanker to overturn, Soriano said.

The boiling tar poured from the tanker and onto the road.

State Police, along with personnel from the Chaves County Sheriff’s Office, the Roswell Fire Department, Midway Fire and EMS and the New Mexico Department of Transportation responded to the accident.

The incident was officially considered a hazardous-materials incident and was handled using those procedures, but there was no actual threat to the public, Todd Wildermuth, public information officer with the Roswell Fire Department said.

The area was reopened to traffic by 1:30 p.m. Friday.

Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301, or at breakingnews@rdrnews.com.