Packing house worker prevents injuries, damages in Exeter fire

Exeter Specialities employee wakes up driver sleeping in a semi truck which had caught fire, calls fire department to prevent the flames from spreading to his workplace

Exeter – A packing house employee not only prevented a fire from igniting nearby pallets at his company but may have saved a man’s life.

Joey DeAnda, a receiver at Exeter Specialties packing house at the corner of Palm and G streets, was walking out to a semi truck cooling down before picking up a load when he noticed a small fire emitting from the refrigeration unit of the vehicle at about 2 p.m. on April 6. The flames were small and DeAnda was about to head inside to grab a fire extinguisher when he noticed the driver of the truck was nowhere to be found in the check in area, where trucks wait for crews to load cartons of oranges onto them.

DeAnda said he didn’t see anyone standing near the truck or in the driver’s seat so he walked up to the truck and peered inside and found the driver lying down in the sleeper section of the cab. He got the driver’s attention and told him the truck was on fire.

“He was laying down and I didn’t see him at first,” DeAnda said. “I’m glad I checked.”

DeAnda returned with a fire extinguisher to find the flames had grown and called the Exeter Fire Department, just a half block away. At least five firefighters on three engines and several battalion chiefs responded to the scene and began dousing the truck. The fire was under control within 15 minutes and did not spread to the nearby staging area where hundreds of citrus cartons are stacked before being filled with citrus.

One firefighter reported there was about 130 gallons of diesel in one of the tanks. That combined with the tires, soot build-up and metal frame sent a column of thick, black smoke into the spring sky over Exeter. No one was injured and the only property damage was to the semi truck. 

Start typing and press Enter to search