Driver detaches hazardous load as truck burns

Christopher Gooding
Published on August 14, 2014

Members of the Oxford Fire Department were still dousing the flames of a truck fire more than an hour after it caught Thursday morning at Exit 7, on Highway 104 near Oxford. The truck was hauling a full load of liquid oxygen, but the driver was able to unload the container before the truck became engulfed.

Christopher Gooding photo

OXFORD – A potentially deadly drive was averted this morning on Highway 104 outside Oxford, thanks to the quick thinking of a hazardous material driver.

At 7:56 a.m. this morning, Cumberland RCMP were notified of a transport truck carrying a full tank of highly volatile liquid oxygen on fire on Exit 7 in the eastbound lane.

“On route we stopped traffic back a kilometer from the scene,” Const. Travise Dow with the Cumberland RCMP said. “All we could secure was in the front.”

The Oxford Fire Department, paramedics and the Dept. of Transportation were also called to the scene where the emergency responders found the hazardous load had been detached and sitting about 150 feet away from the flaming vehicle.

“Forty-six metres to be precise,” Dow said. “The driver did a fantastic job.”

When the truck cab began to fill with smoke the driver, who would only reveal his first name as Jonathan, took the Exit 7, unhooked the trailer, and then entered the smoke filled truck and drove it away from the hazardous load.

“I still don’t know what to think,” Jonathan said. “My biggest thing since I started hauling tis stuff is to think of it as a live grenade. For this to happen, I’m happy it happened in the best location, with an off ramp right there to get it away from traffic.”

Traffic that morning was regular and steady for the 104, Const. Dow said, and Jonathan ‘s quick thinking helped minimize the threat to public safety.

“The driver took protective measures to minimize the damage to the surrounding area and the public,” Dow said. “He did a great job.”

The cause of the fire, Dow said, was unknown and under investigation.