Semi Carrying Toxic Chemicals Catches Fire, Prompts Evacuation In Paynesville

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toxic chemicalsA truck in Paynesville, Minnesota caught on fire on Friday, August 18, 2017. The truck was carrying several toxic chemicals. According to the sheriff’s office in Stearns County, the toxic chemicals were oxidizers. These are chemicals that need oxygen in order to burn.

The state patrol stated that the truck caught on fire at 12:16 a.m. It was traveling near Highway 23. The driver called 911 to let them know that he was not able to unhook the cab. He also stated that the trailer had caught on fire, and there was smoke everywhere.

The driver also let the dispatcher know that his truck was full of oxidizers. They are not only combustible, but they are also corrosive. Fortunately, the driver was not hurt in the fire.

The fire produced toxic fumes, and deputies were concerned about the effects that the smoke could have on people. Seventy to 100 homes had to be evacuated because of the smoke. Deputies went to several homes between Highway 23 and County Road 85. Stearns County made phone calls to people to let them know what was going on.  The residents were told to go to Paynesville High School. They were able to go back to their homes a few hours later.

The Stearns County Sheriff Office had to shut down the highway. They decided to make an exclusion zone that was within 1/2 mile of the chemical fire. The officers were able to open the eastbound lane shortly after the fire. However, the westbound lane remained closed for several hours in order for the cause of the fire to be investigated.  Two people were taken to the hospital because they were injured as the result of a chain reaction crash.

The St. Cloud Fire Department Hazmat team and Paynesville Fire Department helped clean up the accident. The name of the trucking company and the driver have not yet been released.  Additionally, the exact cause of the fire has not been identified. The accident is reportedly still being investigated. More details will be released to the public when they are available.

Despite the fact that trucking companies take every precaution possible in order to ensure that their drivers are safe, semi-truck accidents are not an uncommon occurrence. In fact, there were over 130,000 trucks involved in non-fatal accidents in 2008. Three percent of truck accidents involve vehicles that are transporting hazardous materials. There are 2.3 deaths for every 100 miles that a truck driver drives on the road.

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