Semi-truck driver dead after fiery crash with train

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POLK COUNTY, Fla.,None - Polk County investigators still haven't said what caused a fiery crash between a train and a semi-truck that killed the truck's driver.

The collision sent flames and smoke high into the air near State Road 60 in Bartow Wednesday morning.

The driver worked for Highlands Oil, a petroleum distribution company. Investigators said it appeared he was just about to make a delivery when he collided with the train and his truck burst into flames.

When firefighters arrived, they say there was nothing they could do to save the driver inside the truck.

"I feel for the man, but the initial assessment was there was absolutely nothing that could be done, so we turned to other priorities," said Tony Crouse, Polk County Fire Rescue deputy chief of operations.



Positive identification of the driver will be made pending autopsy, set for Thursday.

The dark, toxic smoke billowed into the air for three hours.

"It's toxic smoke. Our folks we put in breathing apparatus," Crouse said.

Polk County firefighters waited to fight the fire until they had plenty of water and foam to fight it with.

"The more diesel that burned off was an advantage to us, less fuel to deal with," Crouse said.

The way the truck was positioned, investigators said it appeared to be arriving at a mining company site.

Investigators said the train was about 25 miles from its final destination. CSX said it doesn't yet know how fast the train was going at the time of the crash.

Federal law requires trains to sound their horns several times, even on private property crossings.

The tracks are a major artery for the mining industry.

CSX said it expects to be cleaning and repairing the tracks through the night and possibly into Thursday.