After a truck burst into flames along U.S. Route 202 in East Winthrop on Tuesday afternoon, traffic backed up as firefighters battled the blaze and environmental officials worked to prevent fluids from leaking into nearby Cobbossee Lake.

The truck, a 2015 Dodge pickup, was heading to Augusta when it started releasing smoke around 4:20 p.m., Dan Brooks, chief of the Winthrop Fire Department, said Wednesday. The owner of the truck, Joseph Darling of Winthrop, stopped the car on a narrow section of pavement near Cobbossee Lake.

“He started to see a little smoke and pulled over,” Brooks said. “All of a sudden fire just burst right out. By the time the first police car got there, it was fully involved.”

Darling was in the truck with several family members, and all were able to get out of the car safely before the fire started, Brooks said.

It was the second time the car caught fire, the owner told Brooks. The family had already taken it to a mechanic once, and they were bringing it to get more repairs when the fire erupted Tuesday afternoon.

“The thing was totally destroyed this time,” Brooks said. “It was quite a big fire.”


Besides the firefighters and police officers who went to the scene, a member of the Maine Department of Environmental Protection also went to ensure that fluids from the car didn’t leak into nearby Cobbossee Lake and a stream that flows into it, Brooks said.

About 25 gallons of gasoline leaked out of the truck, but none of it reached the water, David Madore, a spokesman for Maine DEP, said in an email Wednesday afternoon. A responder cleaned the site, and a contractor will be going there on Friday to remove contaminated soil, Madore said.

After Darling noticed the smoke, he pulled his truck over near the intersection with Turtle Run Road, and police reduced traffic to one lane so that firefighters could work, said Lt. Dan Cook of the Winthrop Police Department.

They were at the scene until 6 p.m., reducing rush hour traffic to a crawl. Firefighters used foam and water to extinguish the fire, Brooks said. He didn’t know what caused the blaze, but said it might have originated in the dashboard area. The state fire marshal’s office was also called to the scene to determine the cause.

Charles Eichacker — 621-5642

[email protected]

Twitter: @ceichacker

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: