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Semi catches fire along U.S. 52 in north Rochester

A semitrailer loaded with fresh produce caught fire along U.S. 52 on Tuesday night, causing at least $100,000 in damage, officials said.

A motorist reported seeing flames coming from the passenger side of the trailer as they drove south on 52 between Oronoco and Rochester about 10:40 p.m., according to Assistant Fire Marshal Larry Mueller.

The driver of the truck, identified as David Weller, 57, of Cedar, pulled over on the 55th Street Northwest exit and tried unsuccessfully to extinguish the fire, which appeared to have started between the rear dual tires, Mueller said. The flames eventually consumed the vehicle, taking the sleeper cab of the tractor and spreading to the inside walls of the trailer.

Rochester firefighters were assisted by the Byron Fire Department, said Chuck Solseth of the Rochester Fire Department. Byron firefighters shuttled tankers of water to the scene, Mueller said.

"A (refrigerated) trailer's insulation is just like fuel," he said this morning, adding the trailer was so packed with produce that two 10-yard Dumpsters were needed to unload it all in order for the firefighters to get to the flames.


Mueller said the cause of the fire is under investigation, with officials looking at a bearing or brake issue, specifically.

No injuries were reported; the tractor-trailer is a complete loss.

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