Tractor trailer burns on I-35 near Bellmead

Area firefighters extinguish a fire that spread through a tractor-trailer on northbound Interstate 35 at about noon Tuesday, south of Bellmead. The fire caused a shutdown of the interstate near mile marker 339. No injuries were reported.

Staff photo — Rod Aydelotte

A tractor-trailer tire blowout sparked a fire on northbound Interstate 35 Tuesday afternoon, leading to the closure of the interstate for more than an hour, authorities said.

The driver of a Forward Air Corporation tractor-trailer reported that a tire on his 18-wheeler blew out while he was traveling north on I-35, south of Bellmead city limits, Waco Fire Battalion Chief Robert Beechner said. The driver pulled to the shoulder of the interstate and quickly saw the fire spreading.

"By the time he could get pulled over to the side of the freeway to check on it, the fire was ablaze," Beechner said. "He was unable to put it out and at that point, he called the fire department."

Bellmead firefighters were the first to arrive and quickly attacked the fire, Bellmead police Sgt. Kory Martin said. Heavy traffic on the interstate caused significant issues with motorists, causing Bellmead police, Waco police and troopers with the Texas Department of Public Safety to divert traffic off northbound lanes shortly after McLane Stadium.

Northbound I-35 was shut down more than an hour.

"The trailer was empty, but the significant fire was on the (cab)," Beechner said. "Our main concern is always safety. Even though it is an inconvenience for the public, it is vital that our firefighters are able to mitigate emergencies."

A tow service was able to begin removing the charred tractor-trailer at about 1 p.m.

Kristin Hoppa has been covering public safety and breaking news for the Tribune-Herald since January 2016. She worked in Northwest Missouri covering crime-related issues before her move to Central Texas. She is a University of Kansas graduate.

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