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Tandem trailer fire

A fire ignited in the rear trailer of a double tractor-trailer Monday evening, forcing the driver to disconnect from the trailers while he was traveling westbound on U.S. Route 460 between Dowdy’s Corner and Buffalo Creek, a Farmville Fire Department (FFD) official said.

FFD 1st Lt. Travis Finch, who was the incident commander, confirmed there were no injuries to the driver or firefighters.

He said FFD received the call at 10:29 p.m. and later noted that it was a US Foods truck that the department responded to.

“I believe it was the refrigerant unit on that (rear) trailer that caught on fire,” Finch said. “That’s where the most fire was. It started there. … It really wasn’t a whole lot more than that, but it burnt the rear trailer up. It was pretty bad.”

He said the fire burned a little bit of the doors on the front trailer, but the front trailer did not actually catch on fire.

Describing the incident, he said that after the driver saw the fire behind him, he disconnected his vehicle from the trailers and “pulled out of the way. We arrived on scene. It was us and Prospect (Volunteer Fire Department). Prospect brought their tanker; we brought our engine. (We) had this fire out, I would say, within 5 to 10 minutes. … We were just hitting hot spots, making sure nothing was still on fire or there was nothing too hot that would probably catch something else on fire.”

He estimated that FFD remained on scene for an hour to an hour and a half. He said Virginia State Police and the Prince Edward County Sheriff’s Office responded and directed traffic.

As for how a refrigeration unit catches fire like it did, Finch said, “I guess it was just running, because it was a US Foods truck, so I guess he just left it running, and it was just old, and it caught on fire. They run them for hours and hours and hours at a time …”