Semi-trailer burns along Interstate 5 in Whatcom County
A semi trailer stuffed with shredded scrap plastic and plastic bags caught fire along Interstate 5 near Ferndale’s Grandview exit Tuesday evening, April 9, forcing fire crews to temporary close northbound lanes while they dumped water on the trailer.
Whatcom County Fire District 7 crews, along with assistance for North Whatcom Fire and Rescue, responded at 9:29 p.m. to milepost 266 for the report of the vehicle fire.
“Somehow, the driver noticed smoke and stopped the truck near the Grandview Road bridge,” District 7 Chief Larry Hoffman told The Bellingham Herald. “He unhooked the truck from the trailer to keep it from burning and getting much worse.”
Hoffman said he was not sure how the fire got its start in the plastic — citing possible causes as something flying into the cargo, spontaneous combustion of some greasy plastic or something creating heat during loading.
“They said it was a pretty uncommon occurrence,” Hoffman said.
The I-5 freeway was blocked for between 20 to 30 minutes and traffic was diverted around using the Grandview off- and on-ramps while fire crews poured approximately 1,500 gallons of water on the trailer, Hoffman said.
Afterward, they reattached the truck to the trailer, towed the load to the nearby rest stop, unloaded the trailer in the area used by the Washington State Department of Transportation to stage winter sanding and doused the smoldering plastic with nearly 10,000 more gallons of water before clean up, Hoffman said.
“It took us three hours to put, and I’m glad it didn’t take us 30,” Hoffman said.