EFFINGHAM COUNTY, Ill. (WAND) - A semi truck hauling frozen Totito's pizza and pizza rolls burst into flames on Interstate 57 in Effingham County Sunday night.
The Effingham Fire Department responded 7:20 p.m. to southbound I-57 at the 161 Mile marker.
The semi was loaded with frozen Totino’s pizzas and pizza rolls and had left the factory in Ohio earlier that day. The driver was headed for Springfield, Missouri with a final destination of Los Angles, California.
The truck driver told firefighters a passing motorist alerted him to the fire as he was driving.
The semi driver said he noticed fire at the rear of the trailer near the right rear tires. By the time he was able to pull to the shoulder, the fire had engulfed the underside and rear portion of the trailer.
The driver separated the cab from the trailer once he realized the fire was too intense to put out with his fire extinguisher.
When fire crews arrived, the trailer was already heavily involved in fire.
Effingham Fire Crews were assisted by firefighters from the Shumway Fire Protection District who responded to the scene with a 2,000 gallon Water Tender and firefighters.
Fire officials described this as a "stubborn fire due to the tight packing of cardboard boxes stacked within the trailer."
"Both water and foam concentrate was used to reach the deep seated pockets of fire with little success, so the decision was made to have Heartland Towing and Recovery, pull the load apart with a front end loader," the fire chief said.
Crews were on the scene for about 2 hours.
Heartland crews had to use circular saws to cut apart the trailer and start removing the burnt product and the trailer.
The damage estimate includes about $45,000 for the refrigeration trailer and about $150,000 in frozen pizza products.
The fire was classified as accidental with an unknown cause in the area of the rear trailer suspension area.