I-71 in Oldham County reopens after semi catches fire, leaks chemicals
By Matt McCutcheon – bio | email Posted by Christi Reynard - email
LAGRANGE, KY (WAVE) - The southbound lanes of Interstate 71 have reopened after a tractor-trailer caught fire at mile marker 21 near the Pendleton exit early Wednesday morning, forcing HAZMAT crews to respond to the scene and close both lanes for several hours.
It all started around 2:30 Wednesday morning. That's when the big rig caught fire after the driver says there was a break problem, at which point he later discovered the fire. The blaze, however, couldn't be treated like regular a fire because of what was inside the semi's trailer.
"It was determined to be about 43,000 pounds of a zinc alloy metal," said Officer Justin Flynn with the Oldham County Police Department.
That meant HAZMAT crews from Jefferson County had to be called to the Oldham County Fire to extinguish the flames - and not with water.
"You can't use regular water on it, so it has to be a dry material," said Officer Justin Flynn with the Oldham County Police Department.
Crews had to fight the fire with special dry chemicals and also use fire extinguishers to battle the blaze. Officials say the fire or the chemicals the truck was carrying posed no health risks to the public living near the scene.
Southbound I-71 was immediately closed from mile markers 22-28. The fire was out around 5:30 am, but the cleanup was an even bigger challenge.
"We've had some tractor-trailers catch fire in the past, but not to this measure," said Flynn.
The southbound lanes were diverted at Pendleton onto Highway 153 North to Highway 42 to the Snyder Freeway.
The driver of the truck was taken to the hospital for a separate medical issue. He was on his way to Tennessee with the load of chemicals.
All southbound lanes had reopened just before noon.
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