Dry conditions make job harder for firefighters working fiery wreck - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

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Dry conditions make job harder for firefighters working fiery wreck

For hours, area firefighters battled smoke and fire after an 18-wheeler crash. 

It happened on I-65 just south of Ardmore.

Unfortunately that wreck turned deadly.

Forty-one-year-old Darryl Landsdell of Muscle Shoals was headed southbound on I-65.

The truck he was driving burst into flames after he hit a guardrail.

For hours, firefighters from Athens, Ardmore, Piney Chapel, Elkmont, and Oak Grove tried to control the flames and smoke.

But they had this going against them... A truck full of wood and dry conditions that won't seem to weaken.

Monday, Landsdell hit a guardrail in the median of I-65.

His freightliner bounced back and went some 300 yards before halting and catching fire.

Capt. Jason Martin with Ardmore Volunteer Fire Department tells WAFF 48 News, "We're thinking that maybe when it hit the guardrails, that it ripped the fuel tanks off."

Capt. Martin was the first engine on the scene and saw flames shooting 20 feet.

"When I got here it was totally on fire.  It took about 20 minutes to knock down the initial blaze of the truck."

Another firefighter pulled Landsdell from the burning truck as the smoke got thicker.

He was taken by ambulance to Athens-Limestone Hospital, but did not survive the wreck.

Responders had quite a challenge.

Flames were coming from the inside.

The 18-wheeler had been carrying wood.

Smoke billowed for hours.

Wood wasn't the only obstacle firefighters faced.

Martin says, "When we got here with the median being on fire, with the conditions being so dry, all this grass and stuff through here it made it a lot rougher on us because we had to put out a grass fire plus the truck too."

The grass along the median was quickly charred and black lined a good bit of the interstate.

Martin tells us, "We have a hydrant pretty much across from us, but since we're between exits and there's no break in the guardrail there, we're having to go a mile and a half two miles up the road to get to our water and then another mile and a half to two miles to get back to the truck and get the water to us."

But it was that guardrail, put in place by the Alabama Department of Transportation within the past year, that prevented a head-on collision that could have very well resulted in other injuries.

The cause of this accident and fire is still under investigation.

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