CHARLESTON, W.Va. — It’s been a busy week for hazardous material teams from the Charleston Fire Department. Friday morning a semi caught fire on southbound Interstate 77/64 near the 35th Street exit. The box truck was hauling paper, but the flames were so intense they literally melted the trailer down.
The driver wasn’t injured, but it snarled traffic for miles for the capital city’s morning commute for a third morning this week. Back on Monday a semi crashed on I-64 west bound only a few miles away and shut the highway down for 36 hours. The original wreck included an acetone spill which ate up the road surface and required repairs. It took two mornings to get that one reopened.
“In emergency services you just never can tell. We can go from having a lot of structure fires in one week to having a lot of cardiac arrest events in one week. You just never can put a finger on when these type of events will happen,” said Assistant Charleston Fire Chief Trevor Dysart.
In each situation, traffic came to a stand still before officials figured out the best way to detour around the accident scene. Dysart credited other responding agencies who enabled his team to focus on the accident.
“We have a lot of cooperation with DOH and Charleston Police Department. We even had a response from the DEP. All of those agencies cooperating is a huge help, especially with DOH getting that traffic diverted,” he said.
Dysart credited his members who were able to react quickly and knew exactly what to do in each situation to get it under control.
“We have technical equipment that can pick up certain things. Then we look at placards and indicators on the vehicles and go from there to obtaining shipping papers. Then we can assess what we’re dealing with,” he said.
Dysart admitted in each situation you always look back and try to learn how to improve the response next time.
“For the most part, the guys have really done a great job, especially our haz-mat team with the heat we’ve been dealing with and the circumstances behind the unknown products,” he said.
The driver in the Friday incident was not injured.