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RV Fire On I-84 Destroys Vehicle, Causes Extensive Travel Delays



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About 5:47 pm on Thursday, July 19, during the evening rush, an equipment failure on a large recreational vehicle traveling eastward on Interstate 84 in Sandy Hook resulted in a swift-moving fire that destroyed the 2003 Gulf Stream Sun Voyager.

The incident occurred on a bridge on the section of eastbound I-84 lying between its Exit 11 off-ramp and Exit 11 on-ramp. Because the vehicle fire was not an "accident," but only an "incident," state police did not provide details.

Sandy Hook and Newtown Hook & Ladder sent about 15 volunteer firefighters to the scene, said Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire & Rescue Company Chief Bill Halstead, who was incident commander. The 38-foot-long vehicle's front end was engulfed in flames at 5:53 pm, when he arrived on the scene, the chief said

Because the closed section of eastbound I-84 west of the fire was backed up with vehicles, some of the fire trucks responding to the call entered the eastbound highway via the Exit 11 on-ramp and then drove westward in the empty eastbound lanes to reach the blaze, Chief Halstead said. Five fire trucks went to the scene.

Firefighters used 5,325 gallons of water carried on trucks to put out the fire, which was declared under control at 6:11 pm, he said. The fire originated in the engine compartment.

One Sandy Hook firefighter received a minor injury when his ankle was struck by a flying piece of metal which was thrust across the highway by a venting propane tank positioned inside the recreational vehicle, the fire chief said. Such tanks are used for refrigeration.

Chief Halstead said that middle-aged Michael Campbell of Carmel, N.Y., who was driving the Gulf Stream, explained to him that he had been driving and then applied the brakes, but the brake pedal went all the way to the floor. Campbell then kept pumping the brakes until he could regain some pressure on the brake pedal and was able to stop the Gulf Stream on the right road shoulder, after which he discovered the fire in the engine compartment.

Mr Campbell was on his way to New Hampshire to attend some NASCAR racing when the incident occurred, the fire chief said.

Firefighters notified the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) that some automotive fluids had spilled onto the highway during the incident, but no response by a DEEP inspector was required, the chief said.

The incident caused extensive travel delays during the evening rush after state police closed the eastbound lanes of the highway to traffic as firefighters worked to put out the blaze. One travel lane was reopened to traffic about 6:30 pm, and then all lanes were reopened.

I-84 commuters seeking alternate ways to get home got off eastbound I-84 at exits to the west of the incident, resulting in traffic jams on local roads.

[naviga:img class="aligncenter wp-image-330668" src="https://newtownbee.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/I-84-camper-fire-SHVFR-PHOTO.jpg" alt="I-84 camper fire -- SHVFR PHOTO" width="600" height="949" /]

A 2013 Gulf Stream Sun Voyager was fully engulfed when firefighters first arrived at I-84 East between its Exit 11 off- and on-ramps Thursday afternoon. The incident destroyed the recreational vehicle, but the driver was able to safely exit without any injury.

-photo courtesy Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire & Rescue Company

[naviga:img class="aligncenter wp-image-330670" src="https://newtownbee.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/SH_I-84-camper-fire-01.jpg" alt="SH_I-84 camper fire 01" width="800" height="373" /]

At one point during the July 19 vehicle fire incident, I-84 East was completely closed, leading to extensive backups during the late rush hour. Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire & Rescue Chief Bill Halstead, center, was the incident commander during the call.

-Bee Photo, Hicks

[naviga:img class="aligncenter wp-image-330671" src="https://newtownbee.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/SH_I-84-camper-fire-02-Hook-Ladder-firefighters-soaking-interior.jpg" alt="SH_I-84 camper fire 02 -- Hook & Ladder firefighters soaking interior" width="600" height="900" /]

Hook & Ladder firefighters douse the interior of the RV, soaking everything after the fire was knocked down.

-Bee Photo, Hicks

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