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Major Tractor-Trailer Fire on Route 7 in Ferrisburgh

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June 01, 2023 | VERMONT Michael Donnelly, Correspondent
This article is a direct street report from our correspondent and has not been edited by the 1st Responder newsroom.

FERRISBURGH, VT - On June 1, 2023  at approximately 11:00 P.M., the Ferrisburgh Fire Department was dispatched to a call of a tractor-trailer on Route 7 with the brakes on fire. First arriving units found the rear of the southbound unit on fire with rapid extension to the front of the trailer. It was immediately identified as a TT unit carrying 440,000-cubic-feet of natural gas. A second and third alarm were requested by Incident Command Chief Wager and the road was shut down to traffic.

Another TT unit had stopped behind the first unit in an attempt to put out the flames with a hand-held fire extinguisher. The fire was growing with such intensity that the driver was unable to remove his truck from the scene. An arriving firefighter, in bunker gear, gained access to that truck and was able to back it away from the fire scene. 

The fire at this time had grown horizontally, shutting off access from both the north and south. Initially, tanker shuttles were established on both the north and south sides of the incident. 

Vermont State Police, Agency of Transportation and the State Hazmat teams were all dispatched to the scene. The Vergennes fire department was on scene with manpower, a ladder company, tanker and heavy rescue, as well as the Charlotte fire department with manpower, an engine company and tanker. Tankers were deployed from Addison, Bristol, Hinesburg, Monkton, New Haven and Shelburne.

Seeing the communication and powerlines on the west side of the road engulfed in flames, IC ordered the electrical grid in this sector to be shut down. Unfortunately, the back-up electrical power to support communications failed. This resulted in a temporary interruption of radio communication. IC was able to position himself in the front-line pumper with three portable radios with separate frequencies to cover water supply, fire attack and dispatch.

Evacuation was ordered for the civilians in the closest residences. 

The pressure relief valves released approximately 20 minutes into the incident and performed as designed. The unit was cooled for the approximately one hour time frame that it took to burn off all of the compressed gas.  

The truck was a complete loss, but thanks to an alert driver that had stopped the truck in this very rural area to notify him of the impending fire, there was no other damage other than to the roadway itself. If the truck had continued, in three more miles it would have been in a very populated downtown area, which could have resulted in catastrophic loss of life and property.

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Michael DonnellyCorrespondent

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