PORTAGE — A fire involving a semitrailer hauling corrosive materials early Thursday forced a complete shutdown of Interstate 94 and led to a temporary evacuation within a half-mile radius, police said.

A 65-year-old Lincoln, Nebraska, man driving a 2012 Freighliner semi and trailer west on I-94 felt something wasn't right about 5 a.m. and pulled over just east of Ind. 249, according to Indiana State Police.

The driver exited the truck and found the semi's back tandems were on fire, police said. The semi and trailer, which was loaded with hazardous corrosive materials and properly marked, became fully engulfed.

The semi's brakes are believed to have contributed to the fire, police said.

The trucker was transporting the corrosive materials from East Hartford, Connecticut, to Bensenville, Illinois.

The fire forced police to shut down the interstate in both directions and ramps from Ind. 249.

Police also initially evacuated an area within a half-mile radius of the fire, including at businesses north of the Ameriplex Industrial Center. Police reopened the eastbound lanes of I-94 about 7 a.m. and said the evacuations were no longer necessary.

All westbound lanes were reopened about 9:15 a.m., police said.

Reporting like this is brought to you by a staff of experienced local journalists committed to telling the stories of your community. Support from subscribers is vital to continue our mission.

Angry
6
Sad
4
Funny
3
Wow
6
Love
2

Sarah covers crime, federal courts and breaking news for The Times. She joined the paper in 2004 after graduating from Purdue University Calumet.