Anyone driving down Interstate 10 near Love's Truck Stop in Gulfport just before noon Monday may have witnessed a building on fire and heavy smoke.
A body shop building on the service road, located at United Truck Group, caught on fire. The fire resulted in explosions at the trucking business located off Canal Road.
Gulfport Firemen quickly responded to the fire and Harrison County Sheriff deputies closed down the service road off the I-10 near the Canal Road exit. Some residents and businesses were evacuated as a precaution.
"We had smoke and unknown type of chemicals. We shut it down and we were thinking we had to shut the Interstate down, but at this point we did not have to," Fire Chief Pat Sullivan said.
David Green, general manager of United Truck Group, said a flash fire erupted with two workers inside a fiberglass body shop.
"Something ignited and caught the table on fire. And in the chaos of trying to get out, he kicked over another bucket and just ignited it even more," Green said. "Unfortunately, one of our employees had some minor burns and twisted his ankle in trying to get out the door."
Green said the body shop is used to make fenders for Peterbilt trucks. The chemicals used in the shop include acetone.
By 1pm, the roadway was opened back up to traffic and nearby residents and workers were allowed back into the area.
"Now we're into basically a Hazmat role, because we're tying to determine what chemicals have leaked, what chemicals have mixed with one another. We're protecting the environment, meaning that we are protecting the runoff, we're keeping it out of the ditches, out of the drainage systems," Sullivan said.
One of the workers inside the building escaped without any injuries. As David Green said, the other burned his arm and sprained his ankle in an attempt to get out of the building. He was transported to Garden Park Hospital.
According to Fire Chief Pat Sullivan, a cleanup crew from United States Environmental Services is investigating the fire scene to determine what problems might exist and what chemicals were present during the fire.