Fire breaks out in truck trailer

KATHRYN KING
Last updated 12:00 26/01/2013

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A mechanical fault is believed to have caused a fire that destroyed more than half the contents of a courier truck.

The Roadstar truck caught fire on State Highway 3, Rangitikei Line, about 150 metres north of Hansens Line. The driver, Hayden Hakaraia, pulled over after he noticed flames coming from the sides of the B-train.

He disconnected the tractor unit and moved it away from the trailer as the fire engulfed the rear trailer. No one was injured.

The road was closed by emergency services and traffic diverted until 11.45am.

The truck was carrying a load of mostly paper-based goods, including nappies, toilet paper and towels.

Milson fire station officer Malcolm Prince said the rear trailer of the B-train was well alight when fire crews arrived just after 7am, due to strong winds and flammable "grocery item" cargo.

An easterly wind caused the flames to blow across the highway, igniting a grass fire on the other side of the road.

While the grass fire was contained fairly quickly, the trailer took about 30 minutes to put out.

Items like nappies were "awful" because they just smouldered, he said.

Aerosol cans in the truck's cargo shot out of the truck and exploded into balls of flame, he said.

Fire station officer Kerry Williams said he and his crew took over from the morning crew at 8am.

They did not leave until after 11am, having spent that time keeping an eye out for flareups as the goods were cleared off the road, he said.

"A couple of times they would lift up a bucket [of debris] and once air got in it would reignite."

Mr Prince said the cause of the fire was being investigated by fire safety officer Murray Kidd, and had not yet been officially established, however it was believed to have started because of a mechanical fault.

NZ Post spokesman Michael Tull said products in the truck were destined for "a number of retailers" and did not include any public parcels, he said.

About threequarters of the load was destroyed in the fire.

There was no suggestion of any inappropriate action on behalf of the driver.

He did everything they would want a driver to do in that situation - pulled over when he noticed a problem, got the rig away from the trailer and notified the authorities, he said.

Only a handful of businesses had items on the truck and they had all been notified by yesterday afternoon.

Insurance claims would be dealt with by their insurance company as they came in, he said.

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- Manawatu Standard

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