Chaos on Hwy. 401: Tractor-trailer bursts into flames

Members of the Belleville Fire Department (BFD) extinguish a fire in the eastbound lane on Hwy....

Members of the Belleville Fire Department (BFD) extinguish a fire in the eastbound lane on Hwy. 401, east of Hwy. 37, near Shannonville, Ont., after a tractor-trailer collided and burst into flames at approximately 6 a.m. on July 30, 2014. (Photo by Ray Ellis, Deputy Fire Chief at BFD)

Jerome Lessard, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:01 AM ET

SHANNONVILLE, Ont. — A tractor-trailer burst into flames near Belleville, Ont., Wednesday, marking the third major crash in as many days on Hwy. 401.

The series of collisions has driven safety concerns home for truckers and operators.

Early Wednesday morning, a tractor-trailer carrying furniture struck the barrier on the eastbound lane, east of Hwy. 37 in Belleville, and burst into flames around 6:15 a.m.

The truck driver sustained minor injuries.

Const. Dave Ludington said the stretch of highway was to remain closed until late in the evening. It was reopened Wednesday night around 10 p.m.

The westbound lane was closed overnight Monday — it re-opened mid-morning Tuesday — after a tractor-trailer crashed in the area around 10:30 p.m. that day.


Members of the Belleville Fire Department (BFD) extinguish a fire in the eastbound lane on Hwy. 401, east of Hwy. 37, near Shannonville, Ont., after a tractor-trailer collided and burst into flames at approximately 6 a.m. on July 30, 2014. (Photo by Ray Ellis, Deputy Fire Chief at BFD)

Click here to see more photos from the chaos on Hwy. 401

On Tuesday afternoon, a 51-year-old man was killed and four people sustained non-life threatening injuries when two passenger vehicles and a tractor-trailer collided in the westbound lane, west of exit 556, near Shannonville.

"I noticed this part of the highway is under construction these days, but I think it's not only the truck drivers, it's people in general who seem to have no time to get nowhere,” Belleville trucker Than Vermilyea, 59, said.

"Everybody is racing for position. Nobody has got any patience anymore."

Steve Farris, vice-president of safety risk management at International Truckload Services in Belleville, said the latest incidents on the 401 are concerning.

The Bellevue Drive trucking company — its headquarters are right along the 401 — operates 378 trucks and has 475 drivers on the road who travel that corridor both ways hundreds of times a week.

"Any time there are events like this, particularly ones that tragically end up in a fatality, it's always a major concern,” he said.

jerome.lessard@sunmedia.ca


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