UPDATED 6:55 p.m. Thursday
RANTOUL — Northbound traffic was backed up for about 6 miles Thursday afternoon on Interstate 57 after a semitrailer caught on fire 3 miles south of Rantoul. Nobody was reported hurt. Rantoul Fire Chief Ken Waters said firefighters were called to the scene of a semitrailer on fire at mile marker 247 at 1:35 p.m. Thursday.
Rantoul firefighters received mutual aid assistance from the Thomasboro and Gifford fire departments. According to reports from the fire department and state police, Carol Haney, 54, who listed an address in Gainesville, Ga., was driving the vehicle when she noticed smoke. When she pulled over to the shoulder of the highway, she noticed the trailer was on fire. She called 911 and disconnected the truck from the trailer. She was not injured. When the firefighters arrived, Waters said they found the back end of the semitrailer fully involved in fire. “It was carrying a load of transmissions and plastic cases,” Waters said. “The wheel overheated and caught the bed of the trailer on fire.” Waters said firefighters used 80 gallons of foam and 12,000 gallons of water to put out the fire. “The trailer actually collapsed in half as it burned,” Waters said. Firefighters had the fire under control by 2:15 p.m. and left the scene by 4:30 p.m. Both north lanes of Interstate 57 were closed for a while as the firefighters worked. The lanes were reopened later in the afternoon to help clear traffic, but state police planned to temporarily close one north lane of I-57 later on Thursday to allow the debris to be cleared.