Driver, wife escape from burning semi

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Photo supplied by Brandi Myers

Eastbound lanes of Interstate 70 near the 137-mile marker were blocked for several hours Sunday afternoon as local first responders extinguished a semi driven by a Florida couple, who had bought the truck about a week earlier.

Couple uninjured; I-70 damage being repaired
A truck driver had to wake his wife, who was in the sleeper unit of their newly purchased semi on Sunday afternoon, because he saw flames in his rearview mirror.
Fortunately, the Florida couple was able to escape uninjured from their semi near mile marker 137, along Interstate 70, according to Cambridge City Volunteer Fire Department Chief Jeff Gabbard, but all their belongings burned.
The fire was reported at 12:23 p.m., and when CCVFD arrived at about 12:30 p.m., the semi was fully involved, Gabbard said.
Gabbard immediately called for a tanker from Hagerstown’s fire department. The tanker and grass rig stood by in case of a flareup, Gabbard said.
Some firefighters were on the scene for a total of seven hours.
Gabbard said the semi was also the couple’s home, and they’d owned it about a week when the driver saw flames coming from the refrigeration unit. The semi was hauling animal fat for food processing, which wasn’t dangerous, Gabbard said.
Traffic assistance came from Wayne County Sheriff’s Office, which managed the accident scene, and Indiana State Police, which rerouted traffic onto U.S. 40 starting at the 131-mile marker.
The fire shut down the eastbound lanes of the interstate for several hours. The left lane reopened at 4:26 p.m., said Indiana State Police Sgt. Scott Keegan, and all lanes were open at 5:15 p.m.
Wayne County Emergency Management Agency responded to the scene because of concerns regarding potential runoff of the animal fat because the fire took place close to the wellhead, Gabbard said. He said EMA officials believed that situation was under control.
Davis Towing and Tire, from Spiceland, also responded, along with Indiana Spill Response from Anderson because of concerns about the truck leaking hazardous fuel.
Indiana Department of Transportation also came to the fire because the flames were hot enough to melt asphalt and damage the eastbound lanes. Gabbard said the driver was able to get the vehicle off to the side of the road before fleeing, but some melting occurred, and Gabbard expected repairs would be taking place Monday.
The couple was taken to a Richmond motel, where they had shelter for the night, Gabbard said.

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