The semi caught fire just before 8:30 a.m. Wednesday on I-94 eastbound at the 17.9 mile marker, just west of the Portage exit, an Indiana State Police news release said. A 36-year-old man from Minooka, Ill., was driving the 1999 Freightliner semi with dump trailer in the right lane when he noticed one of his trailer tires shredding. The tire began to lean in toward the trailer frame and by the time the driver pulled the semi over, a tire was completely on fire, the release said.
The driver said he tried to extinguish the fire, but it was hot enough to melt through the trailer, leaving a two-foot hole, the release said.
The Freightliner, owned by Christines Cartage LLC, out of Lowell, Ind., was loaded with 55,000 pounds of acid pellets, which are not hazardous. About 1,000 pounds of the pellets were spilled onto the shoulder, the release said.
The load was coming from Arcelor Mittal in East Chicago to the Port of Indiana. There was approximately $30,000 in damage to the trailer and its load, the release said.
The driver was not injured.
The center lane was closed for about a half hour, and one lane was still closed two hours later.
A truck carrying new Ford pickup trucks caught fire in the same area Monday.