Truck fire closes I-70 westbound over Vail Pass overnight
November 12, 2016
VAIL — A tractor-trailer fire closed westbound Interstate 70 all night when a load of used clothing caught fire.
Calls came in at about 9:30 p.m. Friday, and traffic was detoured through Copper Mountain until early Saturday morning.
According to investigators, the trailer caught fire near East Vail when the brakes overheated.
The first fire fighters reported that a large fire in the trailer was spreading into grass and vegetation nearby. The vegetation fire was quickly extinguished and the fire was prevented from spreading to the cab of the truck and the fuel tanks. The tractor was pulled away as the trailer continued to burn.
"We were very fortunate that this occurred at night because if this had occurred on a dry windy day, we would have also had to contend with a wildland fire," said Lieutenant Jacob Savona.
One firefighter received a minor injury due to a slip on the ice. There were no other injuries, said Chief Mark Novak of Vail Fire and Emergency Services.
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Fire fighters were hampered by the lack of water available, and because they had to use saws to cut the through the sides of the trailer to access the fire. Firefighters then had to remove each bale of clothing from the truck and tear it apart to extinguish the fire, Novak said.
The fire was contained within 30 minutes of arrival of the first fire engine. However it took until 4 a.m. to remove the entire load of cargo and completely extinguish the fire.
The incident required the response of three fire engines from Vail Fire and Emergency Services, as well as one fire engine and one water tender from Eagle River Fire Protection District. Colorado Department of Transportation provided a front end loader to help off-load the burning cargo.
Westbound I-70 traffic was detoured at Copper Mountain at mile marker 195 throughout the night. The road was partially re-opened at approximately 6 a.m. Saturday.
Assisting agencies included Eagle River Fire Protection District, Eagle County Paramedic Services, Colorado State Patrol, Colorado Department of Transportation, Vail Public Safety Communications Center and Vail Police.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.