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Travel trailer fire slows traffic on Interstate 44 south of Richland
Travel trailer fire slows traffic on Interstate 44 south of Richland

Hazelgreen firefighters work to extinguish a travel trailer blaze south of Richland at mile marker 149 on Interstate 44.
RICHLAND, Mo. (June 4, 2009) — A traveling family lost their camper Thursday when it caught fire on Interstate 44 at mile marker 149, sending smoke high into the evening sky.

Cpl. Christine Boogart of the Missouri State Highway Patrol said she was in the area when the blaze broke out.

“I was just up the road on a traffic stop and I saw the smoke and came,” Boogart said. “Some people said you could see the smoke as far away as Richland.”

The blaze broke out about 7 p.m. as the Freund family from DeSoto were westbound on Interstate 44 in their 1991 Winnebago, a full-size travel trailer.

“They were just going down the road, smelled smoke, and they pulled over and flames just started shooting out,” Boogart said.

No cause for the blaze has been determined. While the travel trailer and its contents were a total loss, neither the three Freund family members nor anyone else was hurt.

State troopers summoned sheriff’s deputies to assist with shutting down the right-hand lane of the Interstate and had originally expected to block traffic at Exit 150, but determined that wouldn’t be necessary. According to Hazelgreen Fire Chief Eric Price, a propane tank in the travel trailer continued to vent after the main part of the vehicle burned down to its metal frame, but that propane tank was shooting flames off the roadway and reaching the treeline rather than into traffic.

Mike’s Towing of Steelville is en route to the fire scene with a heavy-load tow truck, Boogart said. Rothmund’s Towing was initially called to remove the travel trailer, but personnel of that tow company—who are also firefighters on the Hazelgreen Rural Fire Protection District — determined the travel trailer was unsafe to move in its current condition and plan to wait until the propane burns itself out.

Waynesville firefighters and Mark Twain REACT personnel are also assisting with the fire and with traffic control.

Missouri Department of Transportation personnel reported at 9 p.m. that they expect the right lane to remain closed for about two more hours.

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