Van Fire Snarls Traffic on I-70 in Frederick County, Maryland

On Monday, September 20, 2004, dispatchers for Frederick County, Maryland recieved a call for a vehicle fire near mile marker 40 of I-70. E82 out of the Myersville station was dispatched. E82 arrived on scene to find a late-model Volkswagen van with fire from the rear mounted engine compartment. As the crew stretched a pre-connected attack line the vehicle's owner advised that the van was equipped as a camper, and had an onboard propane tank installed mid-body inside the frame rails.

The initial attack knocked the bulk of the fire, but a melted fuel line, a propane leak, and a small amount of fire above the engine block allowed for immediate re-ignition. The officer of E82 called for an additional engine and a tanker to assist on the call while the crew switched to AFFF in an attempt to control the fire. Under the protection of the attack line, a firefighter was able to access the propane shut-off under the van. Using a blanket of foam to supress the bulk of the fire, the crew of E82 was able to force the damaged latch assembly of the rear liftgate. This enabled them to remove contents of the camper van's interior, access the top of the engine and extinguish the fire.

During this incident, it was neccessary to completely shut down I-70, which is a major thoroughfare in Maryland. The subsequent back-up snarled traffic for miles and resulted in a second incident involving a tractor-trailer that rolled over. Additional units from Frederick County mitigated that call with the driver being transported to a trauma center for non-life threatening injuries.