By RICK HAYES
INA — —
Love's Truck Stop in Ina was shut down for about five hours on Wednesday night, following an incident in which a gas pump was struck by a U-Haul truck.
Jefferson Fire Protection District and the Mt. Vernon Fire Department Haz Mat team was called to the truck stop shortly before 7 p.m., according to Ina Chief of Police Travis Allen, who helped direct traffic at the scene.
"The U-Haul truck struck a gas pump on the southwest side of the passenger fuel bays," said Allen. "When he did that, it broke off the pump at the ground, spewing fuel out onto the lot and into the grass area to the south."
Allen said it appears the truck driver pulled forward and turned an angle too sharp, causing it to strike the pump.
The truck operator was not identified.
Allen estimated about 100 gallons of fuel escaped from the pump. Officials at the truck stop immediately shut down the remaining pumps at the station, although the trucks on the north side of the station were allowed to exit the truck stop. Allen estimated there were approximately 150 trucks at the station when the incident occurred.
Allen said law enforcement officials set up a turnaround at the former Joe's B.P. station, directly across the street from Love's, to keep trucks coming off the interstate from entering the truck stop. "When they killed the power to the pumps, it shut down the whole station. We estimate that we had to turn around at least 400 semis. There was a constant flow all night," Allen said.
"We feel very lucky," Allen said Thursday morning. "We avoided a possible tragedy. There was no fire and no injuries."
The truck stop reopened at 12:15 a.m. Wednesday after fire department officials deemed it safe to reopen, Allen said. An independent hazardous materials company was dispatched to the scene and was cleaning up the parking lot and the grassy area where the fuel had run off Wednesday morning.
"They poured stuff on the asphalt to suck up the excess fuel and water, and excavated the contaminated dirt and hauled it away," Allen said.