A chemical fire broke out in a tractor-trailer as it traveled north on Interstate 495 in Andover on Monday afternoon, causing delays as lanes were closed to deal with the incident, State Police said.
Teams from the State Police Department, including the hazardous materials crew and the bomb squad, were on scene with Andover firefighters attempting to suppress the blaze, State Police spokesman Dave Procopio said.
“This is a tractor trailer hauling some sort of tank containing some sort of chemical product,” Procopio said.
The chemicals the truck was carrying interacted and combusted, Procopio said. State Police are investigating how that occurred.
The fire broke out around 12:20 p.m., and the crews on scene were still working to put it out around 3:15 p.m.
“The fire at various times has been smouldering, fully engulfed, and then suppressed” before starting up again, Procopio said.
The truck pulled into the breakdown lane when the driver noticed the fire, and no one was injured by the chemical reaction.
All three northbound lanes on I-495 remained closed as of about 3:15 p.m., Procopio said, and the closures could continue for several more hours at least.
“That’s the best-case scenario,” he said.
Traffic in the area is being diverted onto Interstate 93 northbound at Exit 40B, from which point drivers can use Exit 48 off I-93 to rejoin I-495 northbound via Route 213, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation said in a statement.
The off-ramps at Exit 44 in Andover leading from I-93 onto I-495 northbound are also closed, according to MassDOT.
Crews have set up a perimeter around the vehicle, which remains in the breakdown lane, and they are monitoring the air quality in the area, Procopio said.
“There are air-quality sensors set up in a neighborhood in Andover that’s near the scene to make sure the air quality isn’t affected there,” he said.
This is the second tractor-trailer fire on the highway Monday.
The first vehicle caught fire near the Amesbury and Salisbury line around 8:30 a.m., Procopio said. The fire was contained in the tractor and did not reach the trailer.
Both northbound lanes were closed by Exit 55 in Amesbury, he said. That scene was cleared around 10:30 a.m. and no one was injured.