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Brakes Blamed For Fire That Destroys Tractor-Trailer

PORTLAND — Overheated brakes are believed to be the cause of a tractor-trailer fire Saturday afternoon on Interstate 90 in the town of Portland. The fire was reported around 2:30 p.m.

A trooper with the New York State Police based in Dunkirk said the semi was in the eastbound lane of I-90, between exits 59 and 60, when the fire began. The driver was able to disconnect the trailer from the cab before first responders arrived.

“It was horrible,” said the trooper, who noted that he used a fire extinguisher on the spreading flames. “That did not work at all. The fire progressively got worse. I blocked off the right lane so cars (could) get by.”

“Then it was engulfed in flames,” the trooper continued. “The tires were exploding. The fire trucks showed up and we blocked the eastbound lanes.”

State police said Westfield firefighters “got there pretty quickly” to douse the blaze.

The driver of the semi was reportedly hauling about 42,000 pounds of Epsom salts at the time of the fire. The cargo was significantly damage, state police said Saturday, and was later placed on the side of the road to be cleared.

No injuries were reported; the road was cleared about an hour and a half after the fire was first reported.

The trooper noted the speed of passing motorists as a concern while the trailer was engulfed by flames and traffic reduced to a single lane. At least one driver was clocked going 84 mph past the fire, the trooper reported.

“Slow down and move over,” he said, “and you will see a drastic change in accidents.”

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