Semi Fire Disrupts I-70 Between Effingham and Altamont


Published on August 12 2020 3:34 pm
Last Updated on August 13 2020 8:44 am
Written by Greg Sapp

A semi totaled by fire Wednesday afternoon disrupted traffic on I-70 between Effingham and Altamont.

The semi was burned up by the fire while hauling a load of strawberries. The rig came to a stop at the 88 milemarker, about halfway between Altamont and Effingham.

No one was injured; the semi driver was given fluids and was otherwise unharmed.

Effingham Fire Chief Bob Tutko said the fire started in the rear axle assembly of the semi tractor and quickly engulfed the cab of the truck and front of the trailer. 

The driver reported he had stopped for fuel about an hour before the fire occurred and he detected no problem with the tractor or the trailer. 

Tutko said the value of the strawberries and the cab and trailer is $210,000.

Eastbound traffic was halted for about 45 minutes. Once the fire was out, emergency crews stopped westbound traffic to let the eastbound vehicles be on their way, then westbound traffic was re-started. The crews were moving the semi off the roadway to let normal traffic flow in both directions resume.


Watson and Shumway firefighters assisted Effingham at the scene; Altamont firefighters were already assisting St. Elmo firefighters at a structure fire. Teutopolis firefighters staffed the Effingham stations and handled another call in town that was not serious.

I-70 was reopened in both directions about 5pm once crews moved the burned semi off the roadway. The interstate was closed again about 9:30pm to remove the semi from the scene and clean up the roadway.

Thanks to everyone who sent along photos from the scene.