Coal truck catches fire Thursday

Published 7:59 pm Thursday, October 22, 2009


Traffic came to a standstill for approximately 20 minutes on U.S. Highway 231 Thursday after a tractor-trailer full of coal caught fire in the southbound lane.

At around 2 p.m. the Troy Police and Fire Departments responded to a complaint that the trailer of an 18-wheeler was smoking.

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“The man just came in here in a panic hollering to call the fire department,” said Charlene Green. Green was working at Julia’s Restaurant when the truck’s driver Kenny Land asked her to call the authorities.

Land, an 11-year employee of C & W Logistics, was on his way to Tampa Bay from Birmingham when he was alerted of the situation.

“I heard on the CB the trailer was smoking so I checked it out and smoke was pouring out of there,” Land said.

At roughly 2:10 p.m., Troy police and Alabama State Troopers had stopped all four lanes of traffic on Highway 231.

The backups began a few blocks south of Three Notch Street, where the 18-wheeler was parked in the right-hand turning lane.

“This is the second time we’ve had this happen in the last couple years,” said Troy Fire Chief Thomas Outlaw. “They load up the coal hot and it catches fire.”

The trailer was disconnected from the rig and firefighters climbed ladders and hosed water into the trailer from the opening in the top.

“It never flamed up,” said Troy Police Department Spokesman Sgt. Benny Scarbrough.

“It got hot, and it was smoldering in the back of the truck.”

Firefighters doused the hot coal for 15 minutes before instructing Land to reconnect the trailer and transport it across the highway to the frontage road in front of Soundsations. Vehicles were permitted to pass shortly thereafter.

Firefighter’s continued to push water in the trailer using a 75-foot ladder-truck until the coals cooled and the smoke persisted.

“It was extremely hot but it’s cool now,” said Troy Fire Captain R.E. Fowee who orchestrated the effort.

“It happens every now and then. The coal gets hot and air reaches it and it sparks up,” said Land, who was more surprised at the timing of the event. “I just got a million mile bonus,” he said. “A million miles without a wreck.”