BOWDOINHAM — Crews worked feverishly in Wednesday’s warm weather to unload 20 tons of butter from a tractor-trailer that crashed through a guardrail and plowed through woods in the median strip off Interstate 295.

Maine State Police Trooper Niles Krech said no one was hurt in the crash, but the 40,000 pounds of butter had to be removed from the wrecked trailer and put into a new rig.

“They’re doing their best to salvage all of it,” Krech said as trucking company employees used a skid steer to transfer the butter. “They’re saying they can keep it cool enough.”

The Maine Department of Environmental Protection also responded, to mop up more than 100 gallons of diesel fuel that spilled from the truck’s tanks.

The crash happened shortly after 8 a.m. as the 2007 Volvo truck, owned by A-C Motor Express of West Springfield, Mass., headed north in the right lane on I-295. Kevin Bryant, 41, of Chicopee, Mass., lost control of the truck and crossed the left lane, punched through a guardrail, crossed a long section of grass, then continued about 100 feet into the woods.

“You can’t even see the truck from 295,” Krech said.

Bryant told police that he fell asleep at the wheel. He was not wearing a seat belt, Krech said.

Bryant was standing beside the interstate when rescue crews arrived, and was taken to a hospital to be evaluated, but he was not injured, Krech said.

The State Police Commercial Vehicles Unit responded to the crash. Charges against Bryant are possible, Krech said.

DEP spokeswoman Samantha DePoy-Warren said the crash split the truck’s side-saddle tanks and emptied them of an estimated 100 to 150 gallons of fuel. The DEP supervised the cleanup by Clean Harbors. The process of vacuuming up the fuel and contaminated soil continued into Wednesday evening.

DEP officials did not expect the spill to harm the ground around the crash or a nearby stream.

Kennebec Journal Staff Writer Craig Crosby can be contacted at 621-5642 or at:

[email protected]