At approximately 3:30 p.m. on Friday, July 22, a semi-truck on 1-70 with U.S. Air Force markings appeared to spontaneously burst into flames west of mile marker 212 on the Kansas Turnpike. Wildcat 91.9 news was there.
As the trailer of the semi became fully engulfed in the 105-degree heat, all westbound traffic on the Kansas Turnpike backed up. Nobody was reported injured, and the Kansas Turnpike Authority has yet to release the cause of the blaze, I-70 west barely moved for more than two and 1/2 hours in the relentless sun.
But nobody is ever alone in a traffic jam of this size, and despite the 105-degree heat, everybody kept their cool. Due to the Kansas Turnpike having so few exits and entrances, it took area first responders, the KTA, and KDOT workers several hours to clear a path over grass and gravel to extradite the miles of cars.
So, as the semis lined up on one side of I-70 for an open lane, cars, SUVs, and pick-ups were finally able to be evacuated to state highway 24. Some motorists opted to re-enter the turnpike at the next exchange, while others decided to accept a more circuitous way home that was devoid of any traffic at all. At the end of the day, thanks to patient drivers and the ingenuity of KDOT, the only casualty was that U.S. Air Force semi-truck trailer and whatever its mysterious cargo was.