Tractor trailer crash and fire closes highway

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PUTNEY -- Northbound Interstate 91 was closed for much of the day Tuesday following the crash of a tractor trailer that resulted in a fire.

The Vermont State Police and fire departments from around the region responded to I-91 at just before 10 a.m. to the report of a tractor trailer on fire. The crash occurred about one mile north of Exit 4.

According to a press release from the State Police, Michael J.Fraser, 45, of Killingworth, Conn., was traveling northbound when it appeared that one of the tires of his vehicle blew out.

"It struck the bridge over River Road South, which ruptured one of the gas tanks causing a fire," said Vermont State Police Sgt. Christopher Buckley.

The car carrier and the seven vehicles on board were destroyed by the fire, he said. There were no injuries as a result of the crash and fire. According to the press release, it does not appear that the driver of the car carrier was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

At 2 p.m., fire crews and haz mat teams were still on site cleaning up the mess, said Buckley, and southbound I-91 was reopened. Northbound travel was reopened around 5 p.m. Buckley said the crash caused minor delays, but most of the traffic appeared to be moving smoothly along the Route 5 detour.

Firefighters from Putney, Westminster, Vernon, Guilford, Bellows Falls and Dummerston and Walpole, North Walpole, Chesterfield and Westmoreland, N.H., responded to the scene.

Putney Fire Chief Tom Goddard said about 40 firefighters were on scene.

"Along with the vehicle fire, we also had a substantial diesel fuel spill and a brush fire that resulted from the collision. That consumed about an acre of land. We had our hands full for awhile."

About 100 gallons of diesel fuel spilled onto the highway as was some hydraulic fluid, said Goddard. Environmental Compliance Services in Brattleboro was called to clean up the mess.

Both lanes of the highway were closed for awhile for the safety of firefighters, who arrived from both directions, he said.

Bob Audette can be reached at raudette@reformer.com, or at 802-254-2311, ext. 160. Follow Bob on Twitter @audette.reformer.


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