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Truck Carrying Dynamite Crashes Into Rail Overpass, Hundreds Evacuated

April 27, 1987

WESTFIELD, Mass. (AP) _ A tractor-trailer loaded with about 22 tons of dynamite struck a railroad overpass and split open Sunday, prompting evacuation of hundreds of people within a half-mile as the explosives were unloaded.

No one was injured in the 4 p.m. crash on a two-lane road that cuts through a residential neighborhood, said police Lt. Wendell J. Thomas.

A dozen volunteers, including police and firefighters, gingerly removed dynamite cartons and loaded them onto another truck. Although the cartons were filled with dynamite, there were no explosive caps, said police Sgt. Brian Boldini.

The unloading was completed by 9:30 p.m., and Police Chief Gerald O’Connor said the truck would be driven to Barnes Air Force Base on the outskirts of the city.

None of the dynamite cartons had spilled outside the truck, which was destroyed when the driver wedged it under the 12-foot, 9-inch bridge.

Area residents, including those at several nursing homes, were being taken by bus to the North Middle School, where Civil Defense officials were setting up a shelter, he said.

Residents were expected to return to their homes by midnight.

The truck was owned by the Baggett Transportation Co., based in Birmingham, Ala., Thomas said.

He identified the driver of the truck as Herless D. Burton of East Gedson, Ala. Burton had picked up the dynamite in McArthur, Ohio, and was heading toward Kingston, N.H., Thomas said.

O’Connor said Burton was being questioned but that no charges had been filed.

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