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Tire blowout sparks fire on gasoline truck

By: Tim Johnston Email
By: Tim Johnston Email

ROCKCASTLE COUNTY, Ky. (WKYT) - It happened around 4:30 p.m. at mile-marker 71 on the northbound side of I-75, there a tanker sat on the side of the road with the four flat tires. However, that doesn't even begin to tell the real story of the danger that could've happened.

"A tire on the rear of this trailer had blowed out and caught the other ones on fire by the time it got stopped, it was beginning to be a hazardous situation at the time we were called to it," described Assistant Fire Chief Jack Weaver of the Mt. Vernon Volunteer Fire Department.

Weaver said one of his volunteers happened to be behind the smoking semi, and the Assistant Chief says that's what made all of the difference.

"He was about two miles that I could see pieces of tire coming off and I could see smoke coming from the tractor trailer," said Jeff Conn, the volunteer fire fighter that witnessed the truck catching fire.

When Conn caught up to the truck, he said he saw the driver trying to put out the flames with a fire extinguisher, but this fire fighter knew that wasn't going to be enough.

"I said, 'What's on the truck?' He said, 'Gasoline.' I grabbed him by the arm and said 'Sir, evacuate the area!'"

According to the fire fighters, the tanker was carrying 8,500 gallons of gasoline, Conn said that was enough to send his heart racing.

"We could possibly have a major explosion," he said of his fear at the time.

It wasn't until helped arrived before Conn said he felt safe again, "When I seen the fire truck coming it (Conn's heart) was settling."

He went on to credit his fellow fire fighters for their quick action, "they had it knocked down in a minute to a minute-and-a-half. Good group of guys."

The fire department says the fire started to burn into the fuel lines the tanker uses to refill gas wells at the station.

The close call lead Assistant Chief Weaver to exclaim, "We saved the day! You know this could've been a hazardous situation and there could've been a lot of people killed or injured."

Thankfully, no one was injured and while the interstate had to be shut down on both sides because of the hazard, the fire fighters are still proud they were able to put and end to this Sunday scare.


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