Truck fire closes SH3

Last updated 12:05 25/01/2013

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State Highway 3 Rangitikei Line has reopened, nearly five hours after a large truck fire closed the road to traffic.

Police Central communications Inspector Andy Dow said the road was now open to limited lanes, as at 11:45am, with the passing lane remaining closed.

Fire crews left the scene after spending the past few hours making sure fires in the truck's cargo did not reignite.

Palmerston North Fire station officer Kerry Williams said Higgins crews were still at the scene clearing up the debris, but their part was finished.

The courier truck blaze occurred earlier this morning after aerosol cans onboard exploded into the air on a section of State Highway 3 near Palmerston North.

The truck driver, Hayden Hakaraia, pulled over on Rangitikei Line about 150m north of Hansens Line, just after 7am, after seeing flames coming out of the sides of his B-train curtainsider truck.

Chris Tuoro, who was along for the ride with his friend, said they had travelled from Auckland with a full load of packages and goods destined for Palmerston North, where they were to unload and pick up a new load to take back.

Neither men were injured and no other vehicles were involved.

He said they were alerted to the fire after seeing flames and burning pieces of flying debris coming out of the sides of the truck in the wing mirrors, so Mr Hakaraia pulled over and they removed the trailer unit from the truck.

The only dangerous goods onboard were aerosol cans, some of which went shooting off into the air before fire crews arrived.

The fire must have been going for some time before they noticed it because he had been told there was a trail of burnt debris along the road behind them, he said.

The cause of the fire was yet to be determined, and Mr Tuoro didn't know how it could have started either.

NZPost spokesman Michael Tull said the Roadstar truck was carrying freight of mainly paper goods including toilet paper, nappies and towels.

They were unsure what the aerosol containers were, he said.

Tull said investigation into the fire was ongoing but it was suspected that the truck had a mechanical issue which caused the fire.

The products were destined for "a number of retailers" and did not include the public's parcels, he said.

Helen Upson, from nearby Hanshi Kennels, said she heard two loud explosions that she thought were doors slamming shut.

When she went downstairs and saw her neighbour go past her house at speed, she followed him and saw the trailer unit up in flames.She later realised the big bangs she heard were tyres exploding.

''The only thing I can think of is the brakes, but that shouldn't come up through the boards into the trailer,'' she said.The fire was out about 8:30am, and fire services managed to stop it spreading to nearby vegetation.

Traffic diversions through Hansens Line and Newbury Line remained in place after it was extinguished while the scene was cleared.

Powerco were also called to the scene in case flames threatened nearby powerlines.

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- Manawatu Standard


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