A tractor-trailer full of frozen food was destroyed by fire on Monday night, just after it passed through the northernmost toll of the Maine Turnpike in West Gardiner.

No one was injured during the fire, which appeared to be related to a brake problem on the truck, but police closed the northbound lanes of the Maine Turnpike to prevent any cars from being damaged by the flames and debris. Firefighters worked at the scene from about 10 p.m. Monday until about 4:30 a.m. Tuesday.

“The fire was so hot and was taking up all the lanes,” said Trooper Lee Vanadestine, of the Maine State Police. “Tires were exploding, and you can’t have motorists passing through there with all that going on. Literally, the fire was coming out across all of the lanes.”

Both the tractor-trailer and its driver, 59-year-old Warren Reeves, were from Arkansas. According to Vanadestine, Reeves decided to pull the tractor-trailer over just north of the toll plaza, after a light came on in the truck that indicated it had a brake problem.

After pulling over, Reeves noticed that the truck, a 2014 Volvo, had caught fire, and he tried to contain the flames with an extinguisher, Vanadestine said. Soon, though, the truck was fully engulfed.

The truck was hauling a variety of frozen foods, including chicken and prepared meals, for an Arkansas company called Comcast, according to Vanadestine. But when it burned, the fragrance was hardly that of a summer barbecue.

“It was a pretty rancid smell, actually,” Vanadestine said.

The truck was a total loss, and no charges are pending against the driver or the company. No hazardous materials were released from the burning vehicle, Vanadestine added.

Gardiner and West Gardiner firefighters battled the blaze, and police closed the northbound lanes in that section of the Maine Turnpike, which is also Interstate 95, from about 10:15 p.m. to 11:15 p.m., according the Maine Turnpike Authority. The highway was shut down between the West Gardiner barrier toll at Mile 100 and the end of the turnpike at Mile 109, and northbound drivers were directed to exit 86 in Sabattus.

It took firefighters about 30 minutes to knock down the main fire, but it flared back up at one point, Vanadestine said. After 11:15 p.m., limited travel was allowed through the toll plaza, and firefighters remained at the scene until about 4:30 a.m.

Charles Eichacker — 621-5642

[email protected]

Twitter: @ceichacker

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