From the Toronto Sun

Fire closes Hwy. 403

Van crashes, cargo of gas sparks inferno

By JIM GARNETT AND KEVIN MASTERMAN, TORONTO SUN

BURLINGTON -- A cargo van, containing what police say may have been thousands of litres of stolen gas, slid across Hwy. 403 and burst into flames yesterday. The van was merging into the eastbound lanes of Hwy. 403 from Hwy. 6 when it went out of control and overturned, coming to rest in the slow lane and shoulder area, OPP Sgt. Cam Woolley said.

The driver of the overloaded van, who police suspect had been drinking, suffered burns before kicking out the window and climbing out of the developing inferno.

ON A STRETCHER

He then ran into a wooded ravine between the highway and Plains Rd. where he was later pulled out by a fire rope rescue team on a stretcher.

The vehicle became fully engulfed in flames and the intense fire spread to the grassy roadside vegetation.

Fire departments from Hamilton and Burlington responded and reported heavy, black smoke visible for many kilometres. Another tanker truck and additional foam was called in after an initial effort to douse the blaze failed. It took more than 45 minutes to knock it down.

"The firefighters were puzzled when they couldn't get the fire out," Woolley said. "Inside, they found vats or drums filled with gasoline. It was a huge danger because of the gasoline and because it was badly overloaded and difficult to handle on the road."

An investigation into the source of the gasoline is under way. "There are some questions being asked as to the source of the gasoline," Woolley said. "We expect it to be for a nefarious purpose."

The highway was closed for more than three hours.

Michael Armstrong, 42, of Burlington is charged with several highway traffic violations.