Yarmouth fuel truck fire could have been much worse

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YARMOUTH — The cab of a diesel tanker was destroyed by fire Wednesday morning at the Interstate 295 commuter parking lot.

Little was left of the front end of the Dennis K. Burke fuel distribution 18-wheeler, which was carrying 8,000 gallons of diesel fuel, after the fire at Exit 15. The driver of the vehicle escaped unharmed.

The driver, who declined to identify himself or discuss the incident, was traveling north on I-295 in Falmouth when he smelled something burning, according to Yarmouth Fire Department Chief Michael Robitaille.

By the time the driver pulled into the Yarmouth parking lot, the vehicle was on fire. It burst into flames when he left the cab.

“The only reason it didn’t ignite more is because he was driving down the road,” Robitaille said. “… The wind actually kept that fire (down), so when he did stop, it just let go.”

Fire crews from Yarmouth, Falmouth, and Freeport were on the scene within four minutes of the 11:47 a.m. call, Robitaille said, and their priority was keeping the tank cool so it didn’t explode.

“It takes a lot to get diesel fuel to heat up, ignite, and then explode,” he said. “Had this been gasoline, it would have been a much more volatile situation.”

Robitaille said it appeared the fire started on the left side of the engine compartment, but because of the extensive damage, it’s difficult to tell the cause.

Officials from the Department of Environmental Protection were on the scene and preliminary reports said were there were no environmental hazards.

Robitaille said the truck was coming from a Dennis K. Burke location in Saco, although the company is based in Massachusetts. It was unknown where the driver was headed.

Kate Gardner can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or kgardner@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @katevgardner.

Sidebar Elements

The driver of the truck escaped the cab unharmed as it was bursting into flames at the Yarmouth commuter parking at Exit 15 on Interstate 295.

The cab of this diesel tanker carrying 8,000 gallons of fuel caught fire late Wednesday morning, July 8, in Yarmouth and was destroyed.

I'm a reporter for The Forecaster covering Freeport, Yarmouth, Chebeague Island, and Cape Elizabeth. I'm from a small town in NH no one's ever heard of. When not reporting, I can be found eating pasta and reading books, often at the same time.