Propane truck fire blocks Route 9

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CHESTERFIELD, N.H. — Those heading to Keene Friday night at about 7:30 p.m. were in for a surprise. Traffic in Chesterfield was blocked both ways on Route 9 after a suburban propane truck had a minor explosion.

The truck was being towed along Route 9 when its tires caught on fire. "I don't know what happened," Chesterfield Fire Chief Rick Cooper said. "I don't know if it locked up, or if they were frozen, or breaks locked up and they were trying to free them, or what."

By the time Cooper arrived on the scene the truck was on fire.

He said the explosion is believed to have been caused by air pressure blowing in the tire.

The propane truck driver was with the tow truck driver during the fire, neither person was injured.

Responding to the scene was made especially difficult for firefighters because of Friday's cold temperatures. At around 8:30 p.m. temperatures were below freezing.

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Departments responding to the call included Westmoreland, Spofford and Chesterfield, as well as departments from the neighboring Vermont towns of Brattleboro, Guilford, Dummerston and Putney. Four of the responding fire trucks' pipes froze as they were attending the scene.

Firefighters also had to be careful because the propane tank was full. A propane line breaking or hazardous tire fumes could cause an explosion, Cooper said.

To make matters worse, firefighters were stuck managing traffic as well as attending the scene. Water used to put the fire out had made the road extra icy. Cooper said one of the first things he did when he arrived at the scene was to call the New Hampshire State Department of Transportation. An hour and a half later, no one from the department had arrived.

"I can't open this road until we get some salt," Cooper said.

By 9 p.m. Cooper said all that was left to be done was to remove the tank from the scene and get DOT to clean up the roads.

Harmony Birch can be reached at hbirch@reformer.com, at @Birchharmony on Twitter and 802-254-2311, Ext. 153.


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