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Burned semi blocks Interstate 44 on-ramp at Hazelgreen nearly nine hours
Burned semi blocks Interstate 44 on-ramp at Hazelgreen nearly nine hours

Hazelgreen firefighters work to cool down a burning semi truck laden with food.
HAZELGREEN, Mo. (May 28, 2010) — An early Friday morning tractor-trailer fire shut down the eastbound on-ramp of Interstate 44 for nearly nine hours at mile marker 145 near Hazelgreen.

About 4:45 a.m., the brakes of a KNB Transport semi truck hauling pancake mix, sausage and corn dogs caught fire and the semi driver, Charles Burchett of Pleasant Prairie, Wis., tried but failed to extinguish the blaze with a hand-held fire extinguisher. The fire quickly spread to both the cab and the cargo of the 2005 Freightliner Classic semi and led to firefighters from five different departments rushing to the blaze.

“When we arrived it was fully involved,” said Hazelgreen Rural Fire Chief Eric Price. “When Tri-County (firefighters) arrived, I had them pull a second line; Tri-County and Hazelgreen pretty much did the fire attack.”

Hazelgreen firefighters arrived with four people, a tanker and an engine; eight Tri-County firefighters arrived with two engines and one tanker. Other departments assisted as well; two Sleeper firefighters came with an engine to manage a powerfill water supply while one Waynesville firefighter with a tanker and two St. Robert firefighters with an engine being used as a tanker ran a water relay between the fire scene and the Hazelgreen access to the Gasconade River.

Pulaski County Health Department food inspector Ladonna Murray arrived to make sure the burned food was properly disposed; Pulaski County sheriff’s deputies controlled traffic to prevent cars from getting onto the blocked interstate ramp.

Price said at the fire scene that he expected Poor Boy’s Towing would need a long time to clear up the wreckage.

“From previous experience they are going to have to offload the food from that truck so it could be hours,” Price said.

According to Missouri Department of Transportation reports, the entrance ramp was finally reopened at 1:15 p.m. but firefighters and health inspectors remained on the scene longer for additional cleanup work until nearly 4:30 p.m.

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