Truck with explosive material catches fire in Randolph County

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RANDOLPH COUNTY, Ark. – Rural Randolph County was abuzz Tuesday from reports of a tanker truck catching fire with highly combustible chemicals on board.

It happened shortly before 3 p.m. on U.S. 67 North, between Biggers and Reyno in Randolph County. The sparsely populated area made for a more controllable situation when a tanker truck hauling 44,700 pounds of ammonia nitrate caught fire, Randolph County Sheriff Gary Tribble told NEA Report.

While traveling south on US 67 after entering Randolph County, the driver told authorities he noticed the tanker trailer pulling. The driver said he pulled to the southbound shoulder when the driver-side rear inner wheel caught on fire.

The driver stated he tried to extinguish it using multiple fire extinguishers, but could not quell the flames. He then called 911 Central Dispatch at approximately 2:57 p.m. reporting the tires on fire. The driver unhooked from the tanker and pulled away from the tanker on fire, Tribble said.

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Traffic was rerouted by Biggers-Reyno Road during the incident.

Emergency Services were dispatched to the scene, including Reyno/Biggers Fire Dept., Pocahontas Fire Dept., Randolph County Sheriff’s Department, Arkansas State Police, Arkansas Highway Police, Clay County Sheriff’s Dept., Office of Emergency Management, Arkansas Highway Dept. The fire agencies on the scene extinguished the fire.

Competition Wrecker Service towed the burnt tanker truck from the scene.

What Is Ammonium Nitrate

Ammonium Nitrate is a naturally occurring, but also synthetically produced chemical compound often used in agriculture as a fertilizer, due to the high-nitrogen nature.

However, the compound is highly explosive and thus, it is also used in explosive mixtures used in mining and construction. Because of its nature as an explosive agent, the Department of Homeland Security monitors sales and purchases of the material through what is known as the Ammonium Nitrate Security Program.

In 2013, an explosion in west Texas killed 15 people, including 10 volunteer firefighters, and injured more. Investigators said it was caused by ammonium nitrate.

Photos by Gary Tribble

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