A pickup truck caught fire in the southbound lane of Interstate 295 in Yarmouth during the Monday afternoon commute, causing travel delays in both directions and forcing officials to close the highway for about an hour.

Yarmouth Fire Chief Mike Robitaille said the problems began when a GMC pickup truck with a snow plow attached burst into flames at the Exit 15 southbound ramp in Yarmouth around 3:45 p.m. A tractor-trailer swerved to avoid hitting the pickup, causing the 18-wheeler to strike a motor vehicle, Robitaille said.

Robitaille suspects that the fire started in the area where the plow was attached to the truck. He speculated that the hydraulics system overheated, causing the truck to catch fire.

No one was injured, but the smoke from the burning pickup was so thick that residents of a nearby apartment building called the Yarmouth Fire Department to report their building was on fire – even though it wasn’t. Crews from Cumberland and Falmouth responded to the call for a structure fire at 3:58 p.m.

“We had to shut down the north and southbound lanes of the interstate because the smoke was so bad,” Robitaille said. Police were forced to divert all southbound traffic off Exit 17 in Yarmouth and northbound traffic was diverted as well during the closure.

Robitaille said that no injuries were reported as a result of the fire and crash. However, the accident caused significant delays, backing up southbound traffic to Freeport, he said.

The pickup truck was removed from the highway, and north and southbound lanes were moving with minor delays by 5 p.m.

The Maine Department of Environmental Protection was notified because the pickup truck leaked fuel onto the highway.

 


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