Semi catches fire on I - 75, tanks filled with fuel - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Semi catches fire on I - 75, tanks filled with fuel

Fire fighters respond to truck fire along I -75 in Tift County. Fire fighters respond to truck fire along I -75 in Tift County.
By Cade Fowler - bio | email

June 20, 2008

TIFT CO., GA (WALB) -  An 18-wheeler hauling butter from Atlanta to Orlando had to make an emergency stop along Interstate 75 southbound in Tift County after the cab caught fire.

"I'm not lucky. I'm grateful," said Sidney Waterson.

Waterson was behind the wheel of the tractor trailer when something went terribly wrong.

He said, "I just heard a popping noise and then I seen smoke in the cab. I thought I could make the next exit, but I couldn't."

Around 3:30 Friday morning, with flames shooting out of his truck, Waterson pulled over in the emergency lane near exit 59. But his biggest concern along a busy interstate was the fact he had just filled up his tanks with almost 300 gallons of diesel fuel.

"I just tried to get away from it and get them (firefighters) here. Because of the cars passing, I didn't want the tanks to blow. That's the first think of is they're blowing because they're full of fuel."

Tifton-Tift County Firefighters were called to the scene where they found the cab of the truck completely engulfed in flames.

"The biggest things we're worried about is actually somebody being inside the vehicle. This time of the night, a lot of them pull over to the side of the road and sleep. We got word that he had just filled up with fuel. So we had two 150-gallons tanks full of fuel. that's one our biggest concerns right there," said Lt. Paul Boyd with Tifton-Tift County Fire.

Firefighters were able to put out the flames in 10 minutes. The flames so intense, it completely melted the cab.

Law enforcement briefly shut down the interstate near exit 59. One lane was re-opened just after 4 a.m. and remained that way until the U.S.D.A. could arrive to remove the butter.

Fire officials say the fire might have been sparked by the truck's turbo charger.

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