The fire caused a shutdown of I-70 during rush hour on Monday morning but the driver of the truck was not injured seriously, authorities said. The interstate was reopened about 7:30 a.m. but the South Outer Road remained closed.
Central Fire and Rescue District Assistant Chief Gary Donavan said the decision was made with the department’s hazardous materials crew to allow the highly flammable ethanol carried in truck to burn off the roadway, which may have continued to be hazardous. Donavan said allowing the fuel to burn off is a little better environmentally and doesn’t allow as much water runoff.
“It burns very hot, that’s what actually damaged the concrete road there at Veterans Memorial Parkway [which the South Outer Road of I-70 is also known as],” Donavan said. “We don’t get these very often but they are very dramatic.”
Missouri Department of Transportation official released a statement saying that South Outer Road of I-70 east of Mid Rivers Mall Drive will remain closed through at least the weekend following this morning’s tractor-trailer fire. The ramp from the outer road to eastbound I-70 will also remain closed.
This morning’s fire damaged several slabs of pavement, as well as barrier wall, guardrail and a light pole. Repairs must be made before it is safe to reopen the roadway.
Drivers can detour around the closure by taking the north outer road to Cave Springs Road and then either getting on eastbound I-70 or doubling back to the south other road.
Donavan said firemen responded to the fire at about 4 .m. on April 23. The truck was attempting to get on to I-70. “He must have misjudged something and caught that median wall and basically overturned his truck and caught fire,” Donavan said. He said the driver was taken to a local hospital but they were told he suffered minor injuries.
Donavan said the drive was able to get out of the truck but was lucky not to have had a serious injury. “The truck is pretty much totally disintegrated. If he had somehow been trapped in that cab when it overturned, we would have been talking about something different here,” Donavan said.