Arkport, North Hornell respond; carnival ride was cargo

HORNELL — Arkport firefighters stopped a tractor trailer blaze Wednesday afternoon on Interstate 86.

The tractor trailer was traveling eastbound when the driver began to notice something was amiss, Arkport Fire Chief Dwight Smith told The Spectator. The driver pulled to the side of the interstate just past the Hornell exit, unhooked his trailer and pulled a safe distance away. Shortly thereafter, the semi was engulfed in flames.

“There was an issue with the front drive axle, the brakes were dragging and it got heated up. He knew it was hot or on fire,” Smith said. “Before we could get a truck on scene it caught the inside on fire.”

Firefighters arrived on scene to find the truck nearly full engulfed in flames, with smoke pouring from vehicle. 

“The brakes caught on fire, which caught the tires on fire, and it got so hot it caught the rest of the truck on fire,” Smith said. “It spread to the inside of the cabin.”

Arkport firefighters doused the machine and quickly got the flames under control before the fire spread to the engine.

“Everyone did a great job. The fire was going good when we got there, but we stopped it where we found it,” Smith said. “We kept it from going all the way through the truck. Nothing past the front seat was damaged.”

The truck was hauling an extensive carnival ride. Smith said the driver was in a hurry to get the machine towed away and didn’t mention his destination. The Allegany County Fair wrapped up Saturday night in Angelica, though it wasn’t clear Wednesday if there was a connection. Smith said the truck was based out of Florida. The driver was unharmed, with property damage to the truck the lone victim of the incident.

I-86 east was shut down for about 30-45 minutes as firefighters dealt with the blaze. It was opened up to one lane traffic once the road was secure. Steuben County Sheriff’s Deputies and New York State Police also responded to the scene.

Smith credited the first responders for a job well done handling the fire and the traffic flow.

“All the guys from both departments did good between controlling traffic and helping with the fire,” Smith said. “Thankfully there was nobody injured. That road can be interesting sometimes with nobody wanting to slow down. Everyone went home safe.”