KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Thick, black smoke billowed over downtown Kansas City Saturday morning after a truck caught fire underneath Bartle Hall. It happened just before 6:00 am, and thankfully the driver wasn’t hurt.
The smoke pouring out from under Bartle Hall and into the skyline of the city drew the attention of travelers for miles around. As firefighters tried to figure out what was burning on the back of that truck, and how to best put it out.
“We stopped and looked down and seen the truck fully engulfed,” said Kyle Jones.
As flames shot up from the semi-trailer on 670, the smoke reduced visibility on the ground to almost nothing.
“The location of this fire being under Bartle Hall the crews in this area are very concerned with the traffic through here in these types of incidents,” said Chief Paul Berardi of the Kansas City Fire Dept.
Firefighters shot foam on the wreckage. Just moments before the truck hit the barrier between the I-70 670 split, it jackknifed and ruptured saddle diesel tanks that ignited the contents of the trailer.
“There were empty gasoline tanks in there one to two gallon, the plastic kind made out of petroleum products which led to the spectacular smoke you saw that was produced,” said Chief Baradi.
The Missouri Department of Transportation spent the morning checking the structural integrity of medians and pillars under Bartle Hall, while fire crews used the fan from an airboat to clear the thick haze of smoke inside the building.
Back underneath Bartle Hall, a tow truck pulled the burned shell of the cab and the torched transmission away, amazed that the driver escaped unharmed.
“That is the main thing that matters is he survived. The truck can be replaced,” said Jones.
Engineers said Saturday there was no structural damage to Bartle Hall or the pillars beneath it.