This is one of the worst semi truck accidents one can imagine. The Montana Highway Patrol says speed may have been a factor in the crash.
Billings Montana reporter Drew Trafton from KTVQ in Billings reported this story.
Billings, MT – Highway 72 just north of Belfry was closed for more than six hours Sunday after a semi-truck rolled over and burst into flames, killing two people.
Shortly after 11:00 a.m. on Sunday, a family living on Highway 72 heard a loud noise and saw a ball of fire move across their front lawn.
“We’ve had truck wrecks but nothing like this exploding gas and stuff.”
Belfry Fire Chief Greg Maddox was on the first tuck to arrive on scene. “The tanker came around the corner too fast and rolled it here. And tore his tank open and ignited the flames here. They started up in the corner and then rolled down to here, and it was all a ball of flame through here.”
“A lot of flames, because the truck behind us here, was fully engulfed yet. And the house, the heat was really intense by the house. We had to move our truck down a little farther.”
Chief Maddox says a HAZMAT crew rushed to cool off the semi-truck and handle the petroleum leak while the fire crews focused on the house and the family inside.
“It’s pretty hard to train for something like this, we’ve kinda trained with oil and gas fires but nothing like this. Right at the time we got here we were to save the house, or control the house behind us, we didn’t know if the occupants got out or not. We thought the house was engulfed but we managed to control the flames there and then we started cooling off the truck that’s behind us. We just used a lot of water. To cool the iron off. To help start putting out the flames.”
Carbon County officials have released the names of a Fromberg couple who were killed in a fiery semi-truck crash which happened on Highway 72 between Bridger and Belfry.
The sheriff’s department says Kevin Woeppel, 39, and Jodi Woeppel, 46, were killed in Sunday’s crash.
The Montana Highway Patrol reports that the driver of the semi lost control of the truck which overturned in the front of a home directly adjacent to Highway 72. The rig was hauling gasoline and diesel fuel and caught fire.
The accident forced the highway to be closed for more than six hours Sunday and officials say those inside the nearby house were able to evacuate with no injuries.
A clean up crew on the scene says the mixture of fuels in the semi-truck added an extra element of difficulty to the clean-up.
“The tanker had both gasoline and diesel on it. The gasoline, one it burns very hot, so there were those issues were we had to stay back a little farther than normal” explained Tim Mulholland an Environmental Engineer with Hanser’s Automotive. “But also, it travels to the ground fairly quickly, so we wanted to make sure we get out there the next day and dig up as much as we can, so if it rains it doesn’t percolate down into the ground water.”
There’s also a ground well underneath the wreckage, which is the main concern at this time. Officials say it could take up to a week before the site is completely cleared.
The family is uninjured although their house and a truck the family owned did sustain some fire damage.
It is unknown to Montana’s News Station where the semi truck was headed, but we’re told the semi-truck was property of Farstad Oil, Inc.
Members of the Belfry Fire Department say they respond to several accidents on the turn in Highway 72 known as Lynn’s Corner.
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