It took dozens of firefighters from two counties to contain a massive blaze Wednesday evening after a tractor-trailer hauling a load of tiki torch fuel ignited on U.S. 58 in Patrick County.
No major injuries were reported from the driver or emergency personnel, although a few firefighters suffered from minor heat exhaustion episodes, officials said.
When personnel from Stuart Volunteer Fire Department arrived on the scene, only one tire of the cab of the truck was on fire. However, the situation quickly heated up once they realized the truck was filled with flammable fuel.
“Two citizens quickly responded with fire extinguishers, but the fire was too hot to be put out,” the fire department wrote on Facebook. “Upon the arrival of Patrick Springs Fire and Moorefield Store it was quickly determined that this truck was going up in flames and BIG water was needed to contain the BIG fire.”
However, access to water posed another challenge. As Patrick Springs Volunteer Fire Department reported, “The closest water point was six miles away, forcing a tanker shuttle operation. This allowed the fire to gain momentum with the volatile fuel load. County-wide tankers and manpower were requested along with companies from Henry County.”
Both lanes of the highway were closed and traffic diverted as multiple fire and rescue workers from all corners of Patrick and Henry counties got to work.
Responders from Patrick County included CCDF Fire Department, Fairystone Fire Department, Jeb Stuart Rescue Squad, Meadows of Dan Fire Department, Moorefield Store Fire Department, Patrick County Emergency Management, Patrick County Fire and EMS, the Patrick County Sheriff’s Department, Patrick Henry Fire Department, Patrick Springs Fire Department, Smith River Rescue Squad, Stuart Fire Department, and Woolwine Fire Department.
Providing mutual aid from Henry County were Axton Fire Department, Collinsville Fire Department, Fieldale Fire Department, Henry County Public Safety, Horsepasture Fire Department, Horsepasture Rescue Squad, Ridgeway Fire Department, along with Dry Fork Fire Department from Pittsylvania County.
The Virginia State Police, Virginia Department of Transportation, Virginia Department of Emergency Management, and Fulp’s Wrecker Service & Hazmat Team also assisted.
Emergency officials thanked Walmart, Little Caesars, Clark Gas and Oil, Helms Septic, and Handy Rentals for providing drinks, food, and fuel as crews responded to the incident.
Kim Barto Meeks is a reporter for the Martinsville Bulletin. She can be reached at 276-638-8801.
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