Bruce, a MN Galoot
We had a somewhat similar situation. It was our first vacation ever, summer of 1980. We were driving to one of the Oregon coastal towns and saw a line of backed up cars a couple miles long. It found a couple back streets that took us past the obstruction. There was something running across the street, I assumed water, and the fireman directing traffic told us to get the hell out of there. I gunned the car and what I thought was water splashed all over, and the car instantly died. We pushed the car to a Denny's restaurant and found that it was drenched with gasoline. A gas tanker overturned in the street.
We had dinner, waited an hour and hosed down what we could reach. Didn't blow up, so here we are. It sure was rough on the blood pressure for a while