Blann Trucking Company Truck Driver Randall McDougal was traveling along U.S. Highway 278, west of Camden near the Arkansas Highway 57, on March 27 when he noticed his brakes were on fire.
McDougal, 63, of El Dorado reportedly contacted the area fire department about 6:40 a.m. local time to report that the truck brakes on the commercial carrier truck he was driving were on fire. He informed the department that he would try to extinguish the blaze.
When the first fire department personnel arrived on the scene, they started to evacuate nearby residents from the area. They said they witnessed McDougal return to the truck just before the vehicle exploded.
A fertilizer truck exploded in the middle of the road in Camden, Arkansas, killing the driver and leaving a massive crater in the ground. https://t.co/SUX9ik6Zly
— 700WLW (@700wlw) March 28, 2019
The truck was carrying ammonium nitrate, a chemical widely used in fertilizer, on the 88-mile journey west from El Dorado to Texarkana.
According to the New Jersey Department of Health, ammonium nitrate is reactive and a dangerous explosion hazard.
“High levels may cause methemoglobinemia with headache, fatigue, and a blue color to the skin and lips,” the department warned in a hazardous substance publication. “Inhaling ammonium nitrate can irritate the nose, throat, and lungs.”
Arkansas State Police confirmed that they had located what was left of McDougal.
“Remains of an individual suspected to be those of Randall McDougal, 63, of El Dorado, have been recovered from the site,” the police said in a press release dated March 27. “The Arkansas State Police has requested the human remains to be examined for positive identification by the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory.”
EXPLOSION CLAIMS LIFE OF TRUCK DRIVER: Remains of an individual suspected to be those of Randall McDougal, 63, of El Dorado, have been recovered from the site of an explosion……Read: https://t.co/WOTnxWghPg pic.twitter.com/7mdhhdtwwD
— AR State Police (@ARStatePolice) March 27, 2019
Authorities responded to reports of the explosion about 7:05 a.m. by shutting down the highway indefinitely.
“The roadway remains closed as the result of a large hole caused by the explosion that stretches across the highway,” police said.
According to the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management, one person died in the explosion. The blast also destroyed two police cruisers and left two officers with minor injuries.
— KTVE – KARD (@MyArkLaMiss) May 24, 2016
Arkansas Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin (R) extended his condolences to all people affected by the blast.
“My thoughts & prayers go out to all affected, especially the family of the victim killed in the tragic explosion near Camden,” he said in a Twitter post dated March 27. “Please keep our first responders in your prayers as they work to contain this incident.”
My thoughts & prayers go out to all affected, especially the family of the victim killed in the tragic explosion near Camden. Please keep our first responders in your prayers as they work to contain this incident. https://t.co/xORz6gWWbJ
— Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin (@LtGovTimGriffin) March 27, 2019
Union County Sheriff’s Office Patrol Sgt. Erick Meadows said the explosion left a big hole in the middle of Highway 278. The department of transportation estimated the crater measured about 15 feet deep, according to CDLLife.
There have been reports the force of the explosion could be felt up to 60 miles away.
Here’s video from the Ouachita Electric Cooperative of the scene down in Camden. The Department of Emergency Management has confirmed one has died from the explosion. @KATVNews #ARNews pic.twitter.com/W8zspbj8Nj
— Nick Popham (@KATVPopham) March 27, 2019
Highway 278, Highway 57, and Highway 24 were closed while police searched the scene.
An investigation continues.
Ouachita Co: Vehicle fire reported on U.S. Highway 278 approximately 1.3 miles east of State Highway 57. Lanes blocked at this time: all. Reported by: @ARStatePolice / Troop F. Monitor https://t.co/l1xGNNByOO for the latest information. #ARtraffic #SWAtraffic #ARnews
— Arkansas DOT (@myARDOT) March 27, 2019
— FOX16 News (@FOX16News) March 28, 2019