FALL RIVER — A flatbed truck with a full load of cardboard recycling that caught fire on Interstate 195 in Fall River yesterday took fire crews more than six hours to clear the scene, snarling traffic both on and off the highway.

Smoke hung in the air and traffic slowed to a crawl for much of Thursday as firefighters closed two lanes heading into the city from the Westport border, with drivers clogging area roadways seeking alternate routes into the evening.

Fall River's Deputy Fire Chief Roger St. Martin said crews were called out at 10:35 Thursday morning to I-195 westbound before the Plymouth Avenue exit for a truck on fire.

The 18-wheeler flatbed had pallets of compressed cardboard bundles for recycling around 12 feet high.

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The cause of the fire is unkown, but St. Martin said it could have been an errant cigarette thrown from a car.

According to St. Martin, in order to fight the fire, crews had to open the bundles and pull each one apart to make sure the blaze was fully extinguished.

Some of the bundles fell into the swale by the side of the roadway as well, so firefighters had to descend and battle the blaze there too.

No one was injured in the incident, and St. Martin said the truck likely sustained limited damage after the driver acted quickly to unhitch the cab from the aluminum bed.

"It created a lot of smoke, and created a lot of heartache for drivers," he said of the incident.

In total five engines, the chief's truck, and a water tanker from Tiverton responded to the scene, with three overtime crews assisting in the afternoon to ensure the city had enough resources for other calls.

Foam was also used in the effort, St. Martin said, which took six and a half hours.

The last unit cleared the scene at around 5:10 p.m.

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