Colleton County Fire-Rescue in South Carolina responded to a FedEx Tractor Trailer fire on a rural stretch of I-95 southbound near the 62 mile marker on Wednesday, September 29, 2004 at 10:15 AM.
The dolly, pulling the second trailer, had brake or tire problems which caused the unit to catch fire. The flames from the dolly, caused the stored packages inside the second trailer to ignite. The driver disconnected the first trailer and pulled it a safe distance away.
Engine 2601 arrived on scene approximately eight minutes after receiving the report. A second alarm was requested shortly after arrival of Engine 2601. This brought Engine 501, Tankers 2602 and 1904, Medic 27 and Squad 1 to the scene. Captain Richard Sheffield was Incident Commander.
It was evident that the trailer would have to be unloaded to reach the burning product at the front of the trailer. No forward access was available. This type of trailer was about 10 feet tall and divided into two sections. The forward bottom portion was heavily involved in fire, which quickly extended to the upper forward portion of the trailer. Firefighters diligently worked to save as many packages as possible and covered the unloaded packages with salvage covers. Over half the contents of the trailer was lost.
After approximately twenty minutes, it was apparent that the fire could not be reached or extinguished from the rear. Firefighters used power saws, Ajax tools and a cutting torch to cut a 8 foot by 8 foot section from the left side of the trailer to reach the burning debris. With temperatures in the nineties and no hydrants available on the Interstate, a third alarm was requested for manpower and water approximately 30 minutes into the incident. Tanker 103, Rescue 105, Medic 1 and Truck 12 responded. A backhoe was requested from the County Public Works Department, which also responded. The backhoe proved invaluable and was able to scoop out 10 feet of the burning debris in a matter of minutes. The debris was dumped onto the Interstate where firefighters were able to soak with water and Class "A" foam.
I-95 was shut down to one lane for about 5-1/2 hours during firefighting operations and cleanup. Traffic was backed up for 16 miles and was also diverted to US Hwy. 15. No injuries were reported.