Pickup, grain truck catch fire Thursday morning

Firefighters spray water at the burned-out shell of a pickup truck Thursday morning on North U.S. Route 45. Adjacent to the truck is a semi that also caught fire. Kaitlin Cordes photo

EFFINGHAM — A dually flatbed pickup truck pulling a gooseneck trailer and a semitruck tractor-trailer hauling asphalt caught fire Thursday morning near the intersection of U.S. Route 45 and the Interstate 57/70 off-ramp after the two vehicles collided, according to Effingham Assistant Fire Chief Matt Kulesza.

The Effingham Fire and Police departments responded to the call placed around 10:05 a.m. Kulesza said the driver of the pickup truck was exiting off the interstate and turned southbound to go to the MotoMart gas station when the driver hit the semi, which was heading northbound, in the passenger side fuel tank, causing both units to burst into flames.

Kulesza said the impact caused the semi to strike another semitruck tractor-trailer situated in the turn lane to get back onto the interstate. The collision caused the front axle of the semi in the turn lane to become dislodged and completely knocked off the unit.

Black smoke billowed from the two vehicles as firefighters doused the flames and police blocked both north and southbound traffic.

Kulesza said there were no injuries, and the drivers of the vehicles appeared to be observing the scene from an empty parking lot. The back tires of the semi were melted, and the cab of the pickup was completely hollowed out.

Kulesza said IDOT provided arrow boards on both the north and southbound interstate ramps to stop traffic in the area. IDOT and the city of Effingham also provided sand to help clean up fuel, diesel and oil spilled on the roadway from the collision.

Traffic was backed up at the intersection of Rickelman Avenue and Route 45 and near the MotoMart gas station farther south on Route 45. Northbound traffic was redirected onto the interstate. The Illinois State Police also responded.

Kulesza said the scene was cleared at 12:36 p.m. after debris in the roadway and spilled fuel and oil were cleaned up.

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