Truck-trailer fire closes I-30

By FAITH HUFFMAN | News-Telegram News Editor

Aug 17, 2007 - The westbound lanes of Interstate 30 and the north service road just west of County Road 4721 were shut down for at least 10 minutes this morning due to a truck-trailer fire. The Rojo Trucking driver, who attempted to put the blaze out with his fire extinguisher, was uninjured.

Staff Photo by Angela Pitts

Hopkins County, Arbala and Cumby firefighters monitor a trailer while a wrecker attempts to remove it from the roadway Friday morning. The extra-long trailer caught fire near the rear wheels around 7:30 a.m. on Interstate 30, just west of County Road 4721. The driver attempted to put the blaze out with a fire extinguisher, but it quickly got out of hand, blowing across the trailer into both lanes of I-30 west and causing two tires to explode. I-30 west and the north service road were shut down entirely for 10 minutes, then reopened with only one lane open for about 2 hours.

The outside lane of I-30 west and the westbound lane of the north service road were reopened to traffic after the blaze was controlled, but traffic continued to move slowly, backing up for as far as the eye could see for about 2 hours while crews worked to extinguish the blaze and remove the wreckage from the roadway.

Hopkins County and Cumby firefighters, and sheriff’s deputies were dispatched at about 7:30 a.m. to what was reported as a big rig fire on the interstate a few miles east of Cumby. Motorists reported hearing what sounded like an explosion and something shooting away from the flames into the roadway.

As firefighters began getting near the truck, they reported heavy smoke easily visible from quite a distance and requested that another tanker truck be dispatched to assist with water support. Arbala firefighters responded.

Upon sheriff’s deputies arrival they reported the trailer was engulfed in flames. When firefighters arrived, they reported that flames were blazing out of the trailer, which was being disconnected from the truck. The flames were blowing south into both lanes of traffic, and two tires had burned and blown off the truck, sending one across the road and one into the left passing lane on I-30 west.

The Rojo Trucking driver said that he lives in Memphis, and had picked up the extra-long trailer load of Powerade drinks in Missouri and was headed to Coca-Cola company in Waco via Interstate 30 west. He saw the flames on the trailer and stopped the truck on the right shoulder. The fire was concentrated in the rear and middle sections of the trailer at the rear tires.  The truck driver said he tried to put the fire out using his fire extinguisher but the blaze continued to grow, and was quickly beyond his capabilities. 

One firefighter said it appeared the brakes may have caught fire and spread to the tires, but was unsure on initial inspection after knocking down the blaze.

Due to the extreme heat, Hopkins County Salvation Army Chairman Jo Marie Neal also was dispatched to the location to provide cool drinks to help keep the firefighters cool and hydrated.

The trailer blaze was one of two motor vehicle fires dispatched around 8 a.m. Friday morning. A car located on FM 71, just east of State Highway 19 north, was reported to have caught fire before 8 a.m. North Hopkins and Dike firefighters were dispatched to car fire, but Sulphur Bluff firefighters responded when it became apparent no one with the other departments was available. The owner was able to extinguish the blaze, and had it out when Sulphur Bluff arrived. No injuries were reported.

City firefighters about 15 minutes after 8 Friday morning also got busy at a two-vehicle crash on Lee Street at Broadway Street in which two people were transported to the hospital. 

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