Small town resources play big role in early morning hazardous truck fire

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CHEROKEE, Ala. (WHNT) – The town of Cherokee may not be very big, but when emergency situations shut down the highway, teams pull together all their resources to help.

An early morning 18-wheeler fire had those crews working through the night. It happened just outside of Cherokee town limits Thursday.

Mayor Terry Cosby said they did what they could for a small town.

“I think we’re pretty well equipped and well-trained,” the Mayor said. “They were able to get a hold of authority with HAZMAT and get them down here. Luckily we had police on duty who were able to help with the traffic.”

All four lanes of Highway 72 and Natchez Trace Parkway were shut down for about seven hours. Crews on scene did what they could to detour drivers, but the Mayor said there could have been a better way.

“I feel we could have made a few detour signs. We could have put them out and we could have handled the flow of traffic a little better than what we did. You don’t realize how isolated you are when something like this happens.”

The firefighters in Cherokee work on a volunteer basis. They were out assisting state, county and HAZMAT crews for the entire time. Cosby said they also but maintenance workers from the town on the scene to help with traffic.

State Department of Transportation crews were back out on repairing the road Friday. Mark Dale with ALDOT in Tuscumbia said the first step is replacing the soft asphalt.

“When there is a fire like that, the asphalt get extremely soft, and needs to be replaced.”

The truck was carrying 7,000 pounds of two different hazardous chemicals. Crews had to let the fire burn out, which took seven hours. ALDOT officials have not yet surveyed the damage, so they don’t know how extensive repairs will have to be.


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