HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Horry County Fire Rescue officials have reopened all lanes of traffic on SC-31 between SC 544 and US 501 after a tanker fire late Thursday night.
At 4 a.m. all lanes were reopened except for the inside southbound lane, according to Battalion Chief Jim Walker of Horry County Fire Rescue.
Justin Gibbons of Horry County Fire Rescue says the call came in just before 11 p.m. Thursday night stating that a diesel tanker was on fire. A volunteer firefighter happened to be driving by the scene and witnessed the blaze; he then called for help. The driver of the truck also called emergency crews after he was unable to contain the fire with an extinguisher.
Gibbons says the fire likely started in the wheel well or the braking system, but right now they're not exactly sure what the caused the blaze. The truck driver reported seeing sparks and then pulled over to find the vehicle on fire.
The fire caused some heat damage to the fuel tanks, but Gibbons says fire crews were able to put the flames out before the integrity of the fuel containers was compromised. Gibbons credits good luck and quick action by firefighters for minimizing the damage and hazard.
"Obviously [with] the [volunteer] firefighter being in the right place at the right time, we got the resources here quickly," Gibbons said. "The guys did an excellent job."
A company contracted by the fuel tanker company was called from Wilmington to offload the fuel from the truck. Highway 31 Northbound was reopened a short time after the call, but the Southbound traffic was limited to one lane for much of the night. Gibbons says the fuel company planned to have the diesel offloaded and the tanker removed by 5:30 Friday morning. All lanes of traffic were reopened by 6 a.m. Friday.
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