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Fire fighters battle semi truck blaze
truck fire pic2
A magnesium flare-up in the engine compartment causes a pocket of molten metal to explode in a shower of flames while a Turlock firefighter battles a semi truck blaze Monday night. - photo by Photo Contributed

A truck driver bedding down for the night in his sleeper compartment had to make a quick exit from his semi truck when it caught on fire.

The fire also sent Turlock firefighters scrambling when a magnesium flare-up in the engine compartment caused a pocket of molten metal to explode in a shower of flames. None of the fire fighters battling the blaze were injured by the explosion, thanks in large part to their protective suits and breathing gear, according to the fire department.

The fire was reported shortly before 10 p.m. Monday in the 2300 block of Industrial Rowe. The driver had just gone to bed when he heard some “popping” noises coming from the front of the truck. When he got out to investigate the noise, he found flames building underneath the engine compartment of the semi truck.

The driver was able to retrieve some of his personal belongings from the truck before the flames extended to the cab, according to the fire department.

The Turlock Fire Department responded with two engines and one battalion chief and had the fire under control in about 10 minutes of arrival. The fire fighters were able to keep the flames contained to the cab and the attached trailer was not damaged.

The explosion occurred while fire fighters were dousing the engine section with water. Magnesium is used in some engines, though not necessarily in all semi trucks, and can cause a firework-like explosion when water is applied to the fire. A specially designed fire extinguisher has been designed to use on magnesium fires, though the Turlock Fire Department does not have it equipped on the engines.

The cause of the fire was determined to be a mechanical malfunction in or near the engine compartment. An estimated damage loss from the fire was not available.