(pictures courtesy of Steve Elliott - Pegasus

On May 31st, 2000, at 01:30 Box 1441 was sounded for a reported tractor-trailer accident with fire and victms trapped at the intersection of Rt 29N and Airport Road. Minutes later, Engine 85 arrived and reported that one 18-wheeler had rear-ended another at a high rate of speed, that one truck was on fire and the victim was trapped and beyond help.

Units that responded on the box included Engine 45, Engine 85, Tanker 49, Medic 141, Car 132, Squad 133, Helicopter Pegasus and Support 49 (Haz Mat unit). The fire started somewhere in the front of the tractor and quickly spread to the cargo compartment, where 30,000 pounds of general merchandise was located. Firefighters attacked the fire from the rear of the trailer and were pelted by dozens of exploding presssurized spray cans.

The truck that was rear-ended wound up 200 feet past the intersection was was badly damaged. It was carrying a cargo of 4" x 6" wood boards that were spilled through the intersection. Oddly enough, this cargo was just what rescue personnel needed when the fire vehicle begain to bow due to the weight of the tons of water being poured on the fire.

About two hours in the incident, fire command asked us for help in extinguishing the fire. Squad 134 was special-called to the scene and its winch was placed in-service helping pull the side of the trailer apart. We tried using sawzalls and air chisels but the 1/4" aluminum skin was too thick to allow easy cutting. Here, squad personnel use the spilled truck cargo to build a huge crib to support the extra weight being added to the fire trailer.

Using a change-of-direction pulley from the landing gear, Squad 134's winch easily pulled the siding off of the fire trailer to allow easier access for the firefighters.

The entire incident took 14 hours to come under-control and tied-up Rt. 29 the entire time. Support 49 personnel were tasked with cleaning up the 200 gallons of diesel fuel that was spilled. The driver of the second truck initially refused transport but later changed his mind and was taking to UVA Medical Center for a check-up.

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