Firefighters respond quickly to I-94 tanker fire

All the fuel made it difficult for fire crews to contain the blaze. Special foam was rushed to the scene from Metro Airport and the Marathon refinery to douse the flames.

With so many lives at stake along I-94, emergency response time is everything. This response in spite of heavy midday traffic, was very quick.

"From the time we got the call we were able to get crews in here in about four minutes, which is excellent. The flammable liquids just burn and burn and burn and a lot of times water just doesn't do the trick," said Dearborn Fire Chief Joseph Murray.

A petroleum-based fire like this requires large amounts of foam. It basically provides a massive blanket of bubbles to keep oxygen out and suppress the fuel vapors. When it comes to finding foam we're fortunate in Metro Detroit to have a fuel refinery offering foam to firefighters. 

"So we did wind up reaching out to our partners. Marathon Oil Refinery is a good community partner with us, brought their foam trailer. We had the Downriver Mutual Aid Association bring assistance with their foam trailer as well and then the Wayne County Hazmat Team also came out to assist us," said Chief Murray.

When Dearborn Firefighters arrived they quickly determined the amount of fuel on scene. Dearborn Fire Chief Joseph Murray reports the tanker was carrying 6,800 gallons of gasoline and 5,800 gallons of diesel fuel. It's essentially a 12,000 gallon bomb. With intense heat and flames and highly toxic billowing smoke, it's game time and there are no timeouts. A fully loaded fuel tanker fire presents a dangerous challenge every single second. 

"Very difficult just because of the size and scope of it and not only having to deal with obviously the flames and the fire, but then having to deal with the contaminants going out into the system," said Chief Murray. "It's a lot of different things going on at one time so it definitely takes a lot of coordination on the part of the incident commander and our battalion chief did a great job, a number of staff officers came and helped sector the area off to make sure that it didn't grow any further," said Chief Murray.

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