November 06, 2014 - 3:11 PM
KAMLOOPS - A semi truck hauling a highly explosive material caught fire near Tobiano this afternoon, leading emergency crews to shut down the highway for several hours.
The driver was able to get out of the truck and move the tractor, the part on fire, away from the trailer. The trailer is filled with 40,000 kg of ammonium nitrate, which is used commonly in mining and is highly explosive.
One witness says the driver had safely pulled the truck away before the fire started.
"I saw him pulled over on my way to Savona, he had his truck 20 feet away," Gregg Bell says. "I went to stop to see if he needed help, but he waved me on. On my way back, 20 minutes later, it was on fire. Fully engulfed."
Driver Rodney Cardinal got out safely and was assessed by B.C. Ambulance crews.
"The fire appeared to be coming from under the carpet of my bunk," he says, adding he tried to put out the fire until the smoke became too overwhelming.
The highway was closed in both directions 10 km east of Savona because of the incident from just before 3 p.m. until 6:30 p.m. Only a single westbound lane remains closed.
In total about 50 people have been evacuated and are being directed to the Hal Rogers Centre at McGowan Park in Kamloops, which is being set up as an emergency reception centre. Evacuated residents, many with pets and items they could quickly grab from their homes, have been briefed by RCMP about the situation but there is no indication about when they may be able to return home.
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— This story was updated at 3:30 to include details from Drivebc.ca.
— This story was updated at 4:27 p.m. with additional details.
— This story was updated at 7:22 p.m. to note the reopening of the highway.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014