(JAMAICA OBSERVER) – The driver of a truck transporting liquid petroleum gas (LPG) managed to escaped serious injury and possible death when he crawled out of his truck after it burst into flames on the busy Rose Hall main road in St James, yesterday morning.
The driver, whose name was not released, was taken to the Falmouth Public General Hospital where he was treated for minor burns, according to the Fire Brigade.
Firefighters, meanwhile, managed to prevent a potentially major tragedy by successfully bringing the blaze under control after the IGL delivery truck transporting 6,000 litres of LPG caught fire.
According to Superintendent Kevin Haughton, head of the St James Division of the Jamaica Fire Brigade, a call was received about 6:10 am that a tanker transporting LPG developed a gas leak along the Rose Hall main road.
“… Response [teams were sent immediately] from the Ironshore Fire Station as well as the Falmouth Fire Station to the scene,” Superintendent Haughton told the Jamaica Observer.
The Fire Brigade divisional head revealed that enroute to the scene firefighters were advised that the truck caught fire and upon their arrival, it was observed that the vehicle was engulfed in flames.
“We started closing down the highway, working with the police in order to alleviate possible risks to motorists and pedestrians before we were able to contain the blaze and stabilise the incident,” he pointed out.
“One of the primary concerns we had was the safety of other motorists so we had to close it (road) down,” said the St James fire chief.
He revealed that initially challenges were experienced in managing the traffic but,”working with the police, we were able to effectively close the highway and start our fire fighting operation”.
“After about an hour of fire fighting we were able to extinguish all blaze and then we commenced cooling the container to reduce further risk of explosion,” Superintendent Haughton said. Forty-two firefighters from Falmouth, Ironshore and Freeport, using four units, were used to fight the blaze.
By then a massive build-up of traffic on the opposite sides of the dual carriageway, which was eventually reduced to a single lane by the heavy contingent of police officers on hand who worked assiduously to maintain order. Commuters, including students and workers who were entering and exiting the city of Montego Bay were, however, caught in traffic for a long.
Among those stuck in traffic was Security Minister Dr Horace Chang, who was on his way to a three-day Government retreat. He, however, praised the work of the police and firefighters.
“I want to commend the men and women from the fire service and the police for the good job in managing what could have easily been a very major tragedy. Even after it happened they managed to keep the crowd out of the area because they have had several secondary explosions, and shrapnel could damage people passing,” Dr Chang, who is also Member of Parliament for St James North Western, said.
IGL, in a statement, said: “We regret that the driver was injured, but can advise that he is receiving medical attention, with IGL monitoring his recovery process.”
The company said it had engaged and remained in dialogue with all concerned parties and the relevant agencies.