Firefighters at the scene of truck crash that sparked a grass fire on the Bruce Highway north of Gympie on Tuesday afternoon. Photo: Contributed
Firefighters at the scene of truck crash that sparked a grass fire on the Bruce Highway north of Gympie on Tuesday afternoon. Photo: Contributed

Toxic chemical cloud slowed down firefighters at truck crash

THE threat of a toxic chemical cloud escaping from a truck that caught fire when it crashed on the Bruce Highway yesterday afternoon caused major traffic delays into the night.

The highway was closed near Ironbark Ridge Road at Bauple for more than six hours as firefighters fought to contain a grass fire that ignited when a truck carrying fertiliser and engine parts crashed into a gully at about 3.20pm.

MORE ABOUT THIS CRASH HERE: Driver's 'extremely fortunate' truck fire escape

Firefighting crews from Gympie and Maryborough set up a 100m exclusion zone when a sulphur-based chemical was detected in the truck.

The fire in the truck - that was lying across one side of the highway- was producing toxic smoke that was heading in a north westerly direction, Queensland Fire and Rescue Service Maryborough area commander Mark Long said.

The truck driver was able to escape before it caught fire
The truck driver was able to escape before it caught fire

Firefighters were fitted with full personal protective equipment to fight the truck fire that ignited a spreading grass fire.

"The toxic smoke cloud was pretty large - we could see it from half way to Maryborough," Commander Long said.

"Firefighters could get within 10-15m of the truck and used a foam solution to lay a foam coating over the truck and fire," he said.

"Once we could extinguish the truck fire - the toxic smoke hazard was reduced and then rural fire crews were sent in to extinguish the grass fire."

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The scene of a crash at Bauple yesterday
The scene of a crash at Bauple yesterday

The grass fire grew to two hectares before it was contained by 7pm.

"Luckily the local hand holder on the western side had done some mitigation work so the grass fire self extinguished.

"If he had not done that it would have gone straight into his paddock.

The truck required calling for two more hours, Long said.

"We were still laying foam and water on the truck at 9pm at night," he said.

Fire crews left the scene at 10.10pm and the highway was opened shortly after.

MORE: Woman trapped in traumatic single car crash

Fire and rescue crews were from Gympie and Maryborough and rural crews attended from Bauple, Tiaro, Tinana and surrounding areas with 17 crews in total.

Clayton's Haulage, who removed the truck form the road last night, will be at the scene this morning clearing the remaining residue form the area.

EPA would investigate the area this morning.

Police are still investigating the cause of the crash, a Queensland Polices Service spokesman said.