Tractor-trailer fire closes part of I-77 Tuesday night

PARKERSBURG – No one was injured Tuesday night in a tractor-trailer fire that closed the northbound lanes of Interstate 77 in Wood County, officials said.

Mark Dils, 53, of New Martinsville was driving the tractor-trailer owned by Murray Trucking northbound on I-77, about a mile north of the Emerson Avenue interstate exit, when it caught on fire, said Lt. Dave Massey of the Wood County Sheriff’s Department.

Officials were alerted to the tractor-trailer fire by passing motorists at 10:53 Wednesday night, Massey said.

The tractor-trailer was hauling a non-flammable, unspecified mineral load on a flat bed trailer at the time of the fire, Massey said.

Dils reported hearing a loud popping sound, said Massey. Dils pulled over to investigate the sound and discovered a small fire burning in the driving wheel on the passenger side of the cab, Massey said.

The fire is believed to have started when Dils’ brakes caught on fire, Massey said.

Dils attempted to extinguish the fire himself, but the fire extinguisher he had access to was insufficient for the size of the blaze, Massey said.

By the time deputies arrived, the back side of the truck’s cab was engulfed in flames, Massey said.

Waverly Volunteer Fire Department responded to the fire around 11:06 p.m., Massey said. Firefighters had the fire under control by 11:16 p.m.

The northbound lanes of I-77 were closed to traffic as fire crews brought the blaze under control, Massey said. The interstate was closed at 11:06 p.m. and reopened to traffic at 11:21 p.m.

Damage to the tractor-trailer was limited to the back side of the cab and nearby storage areas, Massey said. The cab interior sustained minor smoke damage. The fire never went near the fuel storage areas, he said.

Murray Trucking retrieved the burned cab with its own wrecker and sent a different cab to take over the load, Massey said.