El Jebel tanker fire `one of the scariest’ for Basalt Fire | AspenTimes.com

El Jebel tanker fire `one of the scariest’ for Basalt Fire

A freak incident resulted in a fire on a gas tanker truck on Highway 82 early Monday morning and threatened catastrophe, according to Basalt and Rural Fire Chief Scott Thompson.

An upvalley-bound tanker carrying 8,500 gallons of gasoline was spotted shooting sparks by Eagle County Deputy Sheriff Tina Burkey at about 2:20 a.m. Monday. She pulled the truck over on Highway 82 across from the Blue Lake subdivision entrance, according to a police report.

The tractor had apparently been traveling on the rim of one of its rear double-axle dual wheels. The other three wheels caught on fire, and flames started licking the aluminum trailer, according to Thompson.

Sixteen firefighters in four engines from Basalt responded along with an engine from Carbondale. The crews attempted to put out the flames by hitting them with water from afar, but because of the positioning of the fire on the rear passenger’s side they had to move in closer, explained Thompson.

“This is one of the scariest ones we’ve ever had,” Thompson said. “If this truck would have pulled into the gas station it was headed for, this could have been catastrophic.”

Thompson credited the Eagle County deputy for getting the tanker pulled over. The driver of the truck was unhurt.

Although no homes in Blue Lake or Summit Vista were in danger because of the berms along the highway, the firefighters dealt with the possibility of an explosion.

The tanker trailer was divided into three chambers. Fortunately the chamber above the flaming wheels was full, Thompson said. An empty chamber with just fumes would have been more susceptible to fire and explosion, he said.

No report was available Tuesday from the Colorado State Patrol, which investigated the accident. Thompson said he was told by an investigator that the tanker lost a tire at mile marker 12, meaning it had driven about six miles on the rim before getting pulled over.

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