ST. JOHNSBURY — Two men made a quick exit from a Dodge truck on Interstate 91 on Monday as a fire ignited somewhere beneath them.
“(The fire) singed my pants a little,” said Francis Corrow, 46, of Glover, while standing on the shoulder of the northbound lane just north of Exit 20. Nearby, the quad cab 2013 Dodge Ram 3500 he was driving was a smoldering wreck.
The truck belongs to Round Hill Fence and Security in Orleans. Corrow was with fellow Round Hill employee Tyler Jewer, 19, of Irasburg, who was riding as a passenger. They were returning from Bellows Falls. A section of chain-link fence was in the back. Tools organized in a rack-mounted in the truck bed were charred by flames.
When they realized it was on fire, both men made a rapid escape from the truck after Corrow steered it onto the shoulder of the road. Corrow attempted to extinguish the fire with a small extinguisher in the truck but the fire was too big and spread too quickly.
Corrow said it was his guess that the fire began with a problem with the driveshaft or transmission.
St. Johnsbury firefighters Brenden Greaves and Aaron Martin responded to the emergency and found the cab engulfed in flames. They knocked down the fire in the cab and worked to access the engine compartment. Martin said it was clear the fire did not start in the engine area but flames had spread there. The firefighters were unsuccessful in prying open the hood and needed to cut it open with a battery-powered hydraulic tool.
Traffic was stopped about 12:15 p.m. until firefighters had the bulk of the blaze under control and then a single lane was open for the northbound vehicles. It was after 1 p.m. before both lanes were accessible to traffic.