JONES COUNTY, MS (WDAM) - This is a news release from the Jones County Fire Council
The reference of 'coke' in this article refers to a type of coal.
Tuesday night, August 19, shortly after 6 p.m., the Jones County 911 Emergency Operations Center began receiving calls that an 18-Wheeler, traveling south on Interstate 59, around mile marker 99, was on fire. Sandersville, Powers, and Glade Volunteer Fire Departments were dispatched to the area around Sandersville Exit 99, and Sharon VFD was put on standby to be prepared to bring the Jones County Fire Council newly acquired Foam Trailer. The content of the open trailer, which the 18-Wheeler was hauling, was unknown. Once in the area the fire units reported that they were unable to locate the vehicle.
Another 911 call determined that the 18-Wheeler had stopped around Exit 88 in Ellisville. The City of Ellisville Fire Department was dispatched along with the City of Ellisville Police Department. Powers VFD fire units were instructed to continue traveling south on I-59.
The driver of the 18-Wheeler said he stopped at the Ellisville Exit 88 because a passenger car had motioned to him. Unable to see the smoke coming from the top of the trailer filled with large chunks of Coke, he walked around the trailer checking the tires thinking something was wrong with them, which he said was usually what happens when a passenger car alerts them. He didn't see anything so he started off again. By this time Ellisville PD officers had caught up with him and began motioning that he was on fire.
"When I saw all the police cars, I knew something was going on," said the driver. "I knew I hadn't been speeding. But, I didn't know what was going on. Then one of the officers told me I was on fire."
Ellisville LPD officers escorted the 18-Wheeler to the Howard Tech Park where Ellisville Fire Department, Powers VFD, and South Jones VFD fire units caught up with him. The trailer was dropped and firefighters began putting water on the smoking Coke.
The driver hooked the tractor back up to the trailer and Ellisville PD officers led him to a dead end road in the old Tech Park off Highway 11, and the fire units followed. The driver dumped the load of Coke on the pavement and firefighters continued to dowse water on the large clumps of Coke. In the large pile of Coke several clumps could be seen glowing red and the heat could be felt several feet away.
The driver said he had picked up the load of Coke in Birmingham, Ala. and was headed to Lufkin, Texas.
Also responding to the incident was Jones County Fire Coordinator Dan McKenna.