On June 19, 2013, a trucking accident involving two semis started a fire that “could have been a lot worse” if it weren’t for a stroke of luck. The incident occurred on Route 3 in Hartford, Illinois.
Just before 9 a.m., a DISS Trucking Co. flatbed was traveling southbound on Route 3 when it swung from the right-hand lane into the passing lane and then attempted to turn right at Seventh Street. According to a Hartford Police Department ranking officer, Lt. John R. Grigg, a BSL Express truck was traveling behind the DISS truck and struck the passenger side of the semi. The DISS truck was the first to catch fire, but the fire soon spread to the BSL Express truck.
Initially a fire started in the cab of the one truck, but soon there was an eruption of flames when leaking fuel caught fire. Reportedly, the leaking diesel fuel mixed with the water being used to put out the fire, and a small stream of fire flowed down a drainage gutter, nearly trapping a firefighter between the vehicles and the flaming gutter.
Amazingly, a drill was being conducted nearby by a Marathon Pipeline crew. Bill Coulter, a Marathon foreman stated, “It was fortunate. We happened to be conducting a boom drill at our dock facility, and then we were playing for real.” According to Coulter, when the crew arrived “There were a lot of diesel vapors in the air, and something electric in the truck touched it off.” The crew used a “boom” to contain the water and fuel mixture. A boom is normally used to contain fuel and oil spills on waterways.
Initially, Hartford firefighters were called to the accident for a fuel leak, but the fire had started by the time they arrived at the scene. By the time the Wood River Fire Department arrived with a foam truck, the fire was under control.
The DISS truck was carrying machinery, pipes, and other equipment. Luckily, the BSL Express truck was unloaded. The engine compartment of one truck, and the cab of the other were destroyed by the fire. Both drivers escaped the trucking accident uninjured, and one was ticketed for failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident.