Metro-East News

Driver escapes fiery tractor-trailer crash, traffic left snarled for hours

Illinois State Police said a tractor-trailer driver escaped a fire early Wednesday morning on Interstate 270. Westbound lanes going into St. Louis were expected to be closed as officials worked on scene.
Illinois State Police said a tractor-trailer driver escaped a fire early Wednesday morning on Interstate 270. Westbound lanes going into St. Louis were expected to be closed as officials worked on scene.

A driver was taken to a hospital after escaping a tractor-trailer that caught fire Wednesday morning on the Chain of Rocks Bridge.

Mitchell Fire Department Chief Joe Lee said by the time firefighters arrived shortly after 5:30 a.m., the driver had already gotten out of the burning semi.

It was unclear how the driver escaped, but Lee said the man was lucky. The driver was taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital after receiving treatment from emergency personnel on the scene.

Lee said he wasn’t sure if the truck had collided with the guardrail on the bridge before it caught fire, but as a result, the cab of the truck was destroyed. Part of it was seen hanging off the bridge.

The truck was not transporting hazardous materials, Lee said. The fire department worked at the scene for a couple of hours, but had not determined what started the fire by Wednesday morning. The St. Louis Fire Department assisted.

“We got the truck part of the fire knocked out pretty quick,” Lee said. “It just took time to dig through general item products in the truck.”

Traffic heading west from Interstate 270 on the Chain of Rocks Bridge had come to a stop for at least two hours. By 10 a.m., the Illinois Department of Transportation reported that all lanes of traffic would re-open.

Photos taken after the fire showed the truck was heavily damaged. It appeared that the bridge also had some damage.

According to KSDK, an engineer was brought in to make sure the bridge was structurally sound. The bridge passed inspection. The only damage was to the bridge’s guardrails.

Kaitlyn Schwers: 618-239-2526, @kaitlynschwers

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