Just after 5 p.m. on July 10th a semi traveling southbound on Interstate 25 between Arapahoe Road and Dry Creek Road made a hard stop in traffic; a bale of hay on the trailer came loose and made contact with an exhaust pipe. The bale of hay immediately ignited and quickly spread into the truck and stacks of hay. Thankfully the driver escaped without injuries.
A plume of smoke was already visible for miles when fire units left their stations. Upon arrival Local 2164 and 2086 members found a truck with heavy fire in the cab and engine compartment and approximately 200 bales of hay burning on the trailer. Southbound I-25 was quickly closed when tires exploded and flew into the adjacent lanes and the RTD Light Rail was closed in both directions due to the high heat exposing the overhead lines.
With no fire hydrants nearby and a need for thousands of gallons of water, a rural firefighting technique was used in the city. A portable water tank was set up on the highway which holds 3,000 gallons of water. A specially designed water truck called a “Tender” was used to dump water into the tank, proceed to the nearest hydrant off the highway, fill up with water and deliver it to the scene. Meanwhile, Engine 31 was used to draft (vacuum) water out of the portable tank and pump it to the hose lines firefighters were using.
A front loader tractor from CDOT was used to pull the hay and agricultural equipment off the trailer so that it could be more easily extinguished. As soon as that operation was complete RTD inspected the lines and Light Rail traffic resumed operations around 8 p.m., I-25 reopened around 9 p.m. Thanks to City of Greenwood Village, Colorado Government Police, Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office, Colorado Department of Transportation and RTD working together, this incident was resolved quickly and safely.