By CLINT FOSTER
New details have surfaced regarding the large semi-truck carrying sod that was engulfed in flames early Monday afternoon, resulting in two grass fires and a four-car accident. The truck's cab caught fire while heading eastbound on Interstate 20, between the 371- and 373-mile markers before the driver pulled over to the side of the road.
Gordon and Strawn Volunteer Fire Departments responded to the burning truck on the south side of the interstate and controlled the flaming vehicle and residual grass fires within an hour. But the situation went from bad to worse when a Dodge pickup hit a minivan near the scene, causing a four-car pile-up including another semi hauling hazardous, flammable xylene. The effected portion of I-20 had to be shut down most of Monday afternoon as the fire crews, four Texas Department of Public Safety officers, four sheriff's deputies, a Texas Department of Transportation crew, Precinct 5 Constable Gary Morris and others worked to get the roadway clear and safe.
Santo Emergency Medical Services transported passengers from the minivan involved in the ensuing accident, carrying a woman and three children. DPS Senior Trooper Gary M. Rozzell confirmed that it was the mother who was transported with her 7-year-old son, who complained that he smelled something that upset his stomach. Rozzell said the boy was treated and released from the hospital.
Gordon Firefighter James Dickson said that throughout the process of fighting the fire, multiple cars slowed to a stop in the left lane to take photos or videos of the burning truck with their phones. Dickson added that it is not unusual for a few people to slow down and look, but in this case it seemed like almost every passing vehicle stopped to gawk. He said that smoke in the area was heavy and visibility was low, making the practices of these onlookers all the more dangerous.