Tractor-trailer wreck fire

The southbound lanes of Interstate 65 were shut down for several hours after a tractor-trailer struck a guard rail and caught fire. Several crews, including local volunteer fire departments and HAZMAT, were called to the scene.

A tractor-trailer hit a guardrail and caught fire Thursday, leaving southbound lanes of Interstate 65 closed for hours as crews worked to clean up the wreck.

The tractor-trailer was southbound when it struck the guard rail, ruptured both of its 80-gallon diesel tanks and caught fire, according to emergency dispatch reports. By 9:30 a.m., firefighters had reported the vehicle engulfed in flames.

Ardmore Volunteer Fire Chief Tim Toone said his crew was among those at the scene, along with Oak Grove-Thach Volunteer Fire Department, Elkmont VFD and Alabama State Troopers. Athens Fire & Rescue provided mutual aid for HAZMAT, Toone said.

"(The tractor-trailer) had two 80-gallon diesel fuel tanks," Athens Fire Chief Bryan Thornton said. "When it hit the guard rail, it ruptured one of them, and then the other ruptured also."

Thornton said a lot of the fuel burned in the fire, but he estimated 70–80 gallons of diesel fuel were spilled onto the ground and road.

"Ardmore (VFD) worked the wreck and put out the fire, but they noticed the diesel fuel and called dispatch for us to come out," Thornton said, adding that Athens Fire is the first respondent for HAZMAT in Limestone County.

The Alabama Department of Transportation closed both southbound lanes of I-65 between Ardmore and Elkmont as a result of the wreck. It also diverted traffic at Upper Elkton Road and the Alabama Welcome Center in Elkmont. Almost six hours later, the wreck was cleared enough for the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency to announce the lanes reopened.

Trooper Chuck Daniel, a public information officer with AST, said no injuries were reported and the cause of the accident is still under investigation.

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