Tractor-trailer carrying autos catches fire in E. Hempfield
nThe tires on the tractor-trailer melted, so the rig couldn't simply be towed away. BY P.J. REILLY, Staff Writer
A busy section of Route 72 between East Petersburg and Manheim was closed through rush hour Thursday morning after a tractor-trailer carrying automobiles caught fire.
The road was closed between Quarry Road and Graystone Road in East Hempfield Township from 2:30 a.m. until 9 a.m. while crews cleaned up after the fire.
According to East Petersburg Fire Company Deputy Chief Don Schoenberger, the tractor-trailer driver noticed the brakes on his rig were on fire as he drove north through East Petersburg on his way to Manheim Auto Auction.
The driver continued through the borough and pulled over only when he reached a field outside town with no buildings nearby.
By that time, Schoenberger said, the fire had spread to one of the five automobiles on the trailer.
"Once one caught fire, it spread to another and another and another," he said.
In all, four of the five autos on the trailer were damaged by fire, and the fifth sustained smoke damage.
No one was injured in the blaze, which firefighters put down with relative ease, according to Schoenberger.
Then the monumental task of clearing the wreckage began.
The tires on the tractor-trailer had melted, so the rig couldn't simply be towed away.
Instead, tow trucks were called in to use a boom to lift the vehicles off the top deck of the trailer.
The cars on the bottom were pulled off with tow lines.
To haul away the trailer, Schoenberger said, it first had to be cut in half. Then the pieces were loaded onto a flatbed truck.
East Hempfield Township police could not immediately be reached to identify the driver.