November 07, 2014 - 4:32 PM
KAMLOOPS – A trucking company safety manager says dangerous cargo on a trailer would not have exploded if it came into contact with its flaming tractor only feet away on Highway 1 Thursday afternoon.
Caron Transportation's Safety and Compliance Manager Lily MacInnis says the container filled with 40,000 kg of Ammonium Nitrate parked 50 feet away from a flaming tractor near Tobiano would have caused a “very hot fire” instead.
“On its own (ammonium nitrate) is not an explosive product. It’s a flammable product,” she says.
The event triggered a response from Kamloops Fire Rescue, the RCMP and Ambulance services. Highway 1 between Cherry Creek and Savona was closed from 3 p.m. to 6:30 p.m while Tobiano residents were evacuated and directed to the Hal Rogers Centre in downtown Kamloops.
MacInnis says this is the first vehicle fire the company has ever dealt with. Up until the incident there was no standard protocol in place for fire.
“Because it’s never happened to us before, we don’t have a procedure,” she says.
After he noticed smoke coming from under his bunk in the truck, driver Rodney Cardinal said he uncoupled the tractor from the trailer before attempting to fan out the flames. He eventually called emergency services when the smoke became overwhelming.
MacInnis says under normal circumstances Cardinal would have been advised to uncouple the vehicles. But to get back into the driver’s seat while the fire started to spread put him at risk.
“It was extremely brave of him but very dangerous for him. He could have been hurt,” she says. Cardinal was not injured, but has since returned to Calgary for additional health checks.
MacInnis says investigators are still determining the cause of the fire. The cargo shipment was delivered safely to the Gibraltar mine following the incident.
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