Traffic on Interstate 30 west was reduced to one lane for nearly 6 hours Sunday morning, while emergency officials worked to extinguish a blaze which destroyed a truck and Amazon trailer packed with general merchandise. The two men team driving the truck-trailer unit were unharmed; no injuries requiring hospitalization were reported among emergency responders.
While Sulphur Springs and Hopkins County firefighters were responding a report of a fire alarm that’d sounded at a Gilmer Street business at 5:41 a.m. Sunday, a truck-tractor fire was reported on Interstate 30 west near the 122 exit. All three units responded.
The truck drivers reportedly told officials they saw smoke and, were able to stop the truck on the shoulder. When they got out, flames were coming from the front end engine area of the truck, according to fire reports.
Firefighters reported the entire truck-tractor part of the truck-trailer unit to be fully engulfed in flames, with flames blowing back on to the Amazon trailer loaded with general merchandise upon their arrival, Sulphur Springs Fire Investigator Aaron Kager reported.
The heat from the flames were so hot the merchandise in the trailer caught fire, burning to the center of the trailer, which was reportedly stacked too high. The merchandise was in plastic totes on pallets stacked high and tight from top to bottom, front to back.
Sulphur Springs police and other emergency responders also responded to provide traffic control. Both lanes of Westbound I-30 were closed to traffic, with only the shoulder of the inside lane left open to allow traffic to flow in one lane until about 11:37 a.m. Sunday.
At one point, traffic was reportedly backed up and slow moving for several miles on I-30 west through Sulphur Springs Sunday. West Industrial Drive was reportedly shut down from Gossett Lane to State Highway 19 to allow firefighters to stretch a supply line from a hydrant near SH 19 across the road.
However, a truck driver parked on Gossett Lane did leave the area while the road was shut down, running over the hose. Firefighters were fortunate in that no damage resulted from the hose being run over, however, doing so could slow water supplies, damage hosing as well as the pump and other mechanisms on the fire truck the hose is attached to, according to fire investigators. Thus, firefighters ask people please not drive over fire hoses.
Sulphur Springs firefighters called in another shift of firefighters to provide manpower. Cumby and Brinker firefighters too were dispatched to provide manpower as the firefight lengthened.
Due to how packed the trailer was with merchandise, firefighters were initially limited in their access to the affected area and ability to locate just how far the fire had spread. They entered from two places in the roof and eventually the side, according to the fire investigator.
Firefighters had to offload part of the merchandise load by hand to get to the center of the truck, where the heat had spread. Benson Brothers Wrecker Service brought a couple of units to the location to assist in offloading the product. Texas Department of Transportation also bought a front end loader to the site and aided police with traffic control, according to Kager.
Hopkins County EMS was also on standby at the location as a precaution, due to the potential danger for firefighters working on, in and around the trailer in the heat for such an extended period of time.