Two firefighters were hurt after a super-heated tire exploded on a tractor-trailer in Comer on Friday.
A Comer firefighter is stable, but in the intensive care unit, Comer Chief John Bridges said.
"He almost had his hand blown off by the impact of the rubber," Bridges said. Doctors were able to re-attach the hand in surgery last night and they expect to do a few more procedures.
"It looks like he'll be OK," Bridges told Firehouse.com as he traveled to the trauma center Saturday morning.
The Comer firefighter from also suffered burns to his face.
A second firefighter, from Danielsville, suffered impact injuries when the rubber hit him in the chest and arm. He was released Friday night.
A passerby told the truck driver, who was stopped at a red light downtown Comer, that smoke was coming from the tires.
When a police officer arrived to investigate the stopped truck, he spotted smoke coming from the back tires and called for the fire department.
Bridges said the fire was contained by Comer and Danielsville firefighters and the truck was cooled down.
About 20 minutes after they arrived, the truck was pulled off to the side of the road so it could be opened to traffic. Firefighters began picking up their equipment and preparing to return to service.
The two, who were not wearing their PPE, went to take one more look as they were about to leave the scene, according to Bridges.
"It was like a post-incident inspection," Bridges said. "They went to look at it and it went off."
Bridges was out of town, but on the phone with his assistant chief when the explosion happened. The explosion sent chunks of tire shooting through the air.
"You could hear it and I asked him: 'What was that?'"
"He told me he wasn't really sure and he saw some smoke, then he said there were firemen down in the road."
Bridges said the fire was caused by an axle in the bearing that was dry.
"It heated up the axle and the heat transferred to the brakes and tires."