Late into the evening hours of Christmas night, I was working on editing up some photos when I heard Sullivan Fire Department kicked out for a tractor trailer fire on EB I-44 at the 225 mile marker. I quickly dressed, then Onyx and I headed for the truck, camera and portable scanner in hand. Washco advised the tractor was fully involved, and said they had other reports that it might be at the 227 mile marker…so I figured the glow of the fully involved truck would provide a good view from the West Overpass and give me a better idea of which way to go to photograph it and stay out of the way of fire trucks…I met Pumper 854 as I passed Jack in the Box Restaurant about the same time as Washco advised the fire crew that the truck was indeed on fire east of town and Highway Patrol was on scene, confirming the tractor trailer fully involved with a possible load of magnesium. Pumper 854 headed east on I-44 and I took the North Service Road instead…I pulled up and parked on the side of the Service Road even with the truck on fire, arriving right behind the fire crews. I crossed the median and climbed to the top of the embankment to the shoulder of westbound lanes, discovering traffic in both directions, while light, was all stopped, so my first photo shows Firefighter Jimmy Smythe, who was driving and engineering 854, stretching an attack line from the truck, for the firefighters who were busy packing up….the tractor was definitely heavily involved in fire and the front tires of the trailer had also caught fire by now….
…the attack crew consisting of Gary Midgyett, Nick White, and Trevor Woods, made sure their gear and air tanks were working well and then began to attack the fire….they were using foam since they were still not sure what hazards they were facing and it appeared the fire may have been fed by diesel fuel, which as it turned out, was feeding the fire after the tanks ruptured…needless to say, they had their hands full….
I would imagine by now they were probably wondering if the foam was having any effect on the fire, it was definitely burning hotter than a normal truck fire would burn…from my point of view tho, they were definitely having an effect on knocking down the fire…
…and four minutes after I snapped this photo above, they had the fire completely knocked down….
…and not much of the cab of that truck left either….
…Jimmy opened the trailer doors a few minutes later and released the smoke built up inside it, luckily it was determined the truck was not carrying any magnesium or any other haz mat. Needless to say, the tractor was a complete loss and the trailer did sustain some damage. Eastbound lanes remained closed for a few minutes and traffic was diverted on to the service roads at Sullivan`s East Overpass. At the same time crews were battling this fire, a serious traffic accident occurred on Springbluff Road in the area of the bad curves just north of the intersection of North and South Road. A pickup truck struck a tree and there were reports of multiple injuries…I was not able to get out to photograph that one due to road conditions. Sullivan was assisted by Bourbon and St Clair firefighters at that location.