GATE CITY - Traffic on U.S. 23 was routed through downtown Gate City for more than 2Â½ hours Tuesday afternoon following a tractor-trailer fire west of town.
A BFR Mulch Sales truck hauling mulch south on Route 23 stopped near the Jackson Street underpass after the brakes on the single-axle trailer caught fire.
The fire spread into the mulch, said Gate City Police Chief Jason Cox.
When Cox arrived on the scene, he found the trailer full of mulch and on fire.
Although only a small portion of the trailer's contents actually caught fire, Cox said the entire trailer had to be unloaded onto the road. Dump trucks from Gate City Public Works and the Virginia Department of Transportation moved the mulch to the quarry where it was dumped.
The trailer was loaded onto a low-boy trailer and hauled away.
Firefighters from Gate City, Weber City and Duffield were called to the scene, and Cox said he closed the highway due to the safety risk presented by the burning trailer.
"We were lucky this happened where it did," Cox said.
VDOT crews detoured traffic onto Jackson Street to Kane Street and back up onto Route 23.
With more than 20 people from various police and fire departments and VDOT working on the wreck and detouring traffic, Cox said E-911 was instrumental in the operation.
"911 did a great job getting the resources out," he said.