Tractor cab transporting diesel catches fire

The remains of a tractor trailer cab belonging H. N. Funkhouser & Co. rest on John Marshall Highway on Tuesday after Warren County Fire and Rescue squads extinguished what they believe to be a mechanical fire. Photo courtesy of Warren County Fire and Rescue

Traffic on John Marshall Highway near Linden was closed off for three hours Tuesday afternoon as Warren County Fire and Rescue Services units responded to a tractor trailer cab that had caught fire.

Warren County Fire Chief Richard E. Mabie said that a driver of an H. N. Funkhouser & Co. tractor trailer transporting 8500 gallons of diesel fuel noticed smoke coming from his cab and called 911. He said the driver stopped the vehicle on John Marshall Highway about a half mile from Freezeland Road and exited the cab safely.

Mabie said that the department increased their response since the tractor trailer was carrying fuel.

“We put a full complement on this plus tankers because it’s a remote area without a water system,” he said.

According to a department news release, vehicles arrived at the scene minutes after they dispatched, and crews had the fire under control about 20 minutes later. Rescue squad crews cleaned up fuel spilled from the tractor and traffic was halted in both directions until 3:30 p.m. Warren County Sheriff’s officers, state police, VDOT crews and Department of Environmental Quality personnel also responded to the scene.

Mabie stated in the release that the fire was most likely caused by mechanical trouble near the engine.

He said that while the fire caused around $80,000 of damage to the cab, neither the driver nor any fire and rescue personnel were injured. Mabie said there was minor cosmetic damage to the trailer but no loss of fuel from it. He said damage to the cab could have been even more costly if it were meant for longer trips instead of more local deliveries.

“By the time he had gotten to a place where he had called 911 and then us getting there, most of that damage was already done,” Mabie said. “These tractors aren’t made out of metal … most of them are fiberglass. It doesn’t take any time at all for them to burn up.”

Contact staff writer Rachel Mahoney at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or rmahoney@nvdaily.com