On July 11, Estes Express leased the former New England Motor Freight (NEMF) terminal on Mahoning Drive in Lehighton, Pennsylvania. The facility was shuttered after NEMF declared bankruptcy in February 2019. But Estes Express is not off to a good start with its newest terminal.
One fire is an incident, two fires is a concern
Something is not quite kosher since Estes moved into the old NEMF terminal. It was a big event that would bring jobs back to the Lehighton area. It was announced that 50 employees were to be hired when the facility held a job fair in early July.
Lehighton sits between Allentown and Scranton, Pennsylvania, a strategic location for a freight hub to be built. The facility has a large cross dock and large parking footprint capable of accommodating quite a few trailers.
On August 11, a fire damaged several trailers and destroyed an outbuilding. Local firefighters were able to put out the fire that began at 3:30 p.m.
But less than two weeks later, another blaze erupted at the facility. On August 24, fire alarms went off at 7:30 p.m. This time the fire was seen coming through the cross dock.
Multiple companies of fire fighters and rescue personnel were called in to fight the blaze. Efforts to put out the fire went well into the night.
What can cause a fire in a LTL setting?
The fires at Estes are being investigated now by multiple government entities such as Mahoning Police, the Pennsylvania Fire Marshal’s Office, and state insurance commission investigators. But what can cause a fire to break out in a LTL setting?
Hazardous materials are a common cause of non-equipment-related fires in trucking. The dust from certain chemicals blowing in a container or trailer can cause a flash fire.
Spillage from liquid chemicals mixing together can cause a thermal reaction hot enough to ignite the boxes and plastic containers used to hold them.
There are guidelines on how cargo is to be handled and secured against movement. Hazardous material guidelines also state some material cannot be hauled inside the same trailer.
More often than not, we see fires in trailers from residue from an improperly cleaned spill that occurred months ago interacting with a leak from another load.
My question to readers is “When is the last time you REALLY cleaned your trailer?” I’m not just talking about sweeping and blowing. I’m talking about washing out with an inert cleaner and power-washing all the surfaces, including behind the bulkhead and rub rails.
Hopefully no foul play is involved with the Estes fires, but two fires in under two weeks is very suspicious. This is a developing story and we will continue to report as updates occur.