A 1999 Sterling Semi Truck was fully engulfed in flames after its fuel tank was ripped off during a head-on collision with a Grand Cherokee on Route 161 in Fort Kent. Credit: Courtesy of Courtesy of Fort Kent Police Department

FORT KENT, Maine — Volunteer Fort Kent firefighters rescued a man trapped in his Grand Cherokee SUV and extinguished a raging fire burning the cab of a semi after the two vehicles collided head-on Monday evening on Route 161.

The crash occurred at around 6 p.m. on a section of Route 161, commonly referred to as Caribou Road, several miles south of downtown Fort Kent. That section of road is the main route between Fort Kent and Caribou.

Ashton Bernier, 20, of Fort Kent was driving a 2008 tan Grand Cherokee northbound while Glenwood McEwen, 69, of Presque Isle was operating a 1999 Sterling semi-truck southbound when one of the vehicles crossed the centerline and the two crashed head-on, according to Fort Kent Police Chief Michael DeLena.DeLena did not say which vehicle crossed because the crash is still under investigation.

The force of the collision ripped the fuel tank off the semi-truck, causing it to catch fire, Fort Kent Fire Chief Ed Endee said.

“We had two problems when we got there,” Endee said. “One person was trapped in an SUV, and about 200 feet up the road a tractor trailer was burning like crazy underneath the power lines.”

Firefighters notified Versant Power to turn off power to the lines until the fire was extinguished.

The semi, owned by Michaud and Michaud Trucking, was hauling a gravel trailer, which was empty when the two vehicles crashed.

Nineteen firefighters responded to the call with three fire engines, the heavy rescue truck and the squad truck, which carried some of the rescue tools and equipment needed.

Firefighters removed Bernier from his vehicle using a hydraulic extrication tool. Ambulance Service Inc. transported Bernier to Northern Maine Medical Center for treatment of serious but not life-threatening injuries, police said.    

Paramedics evaluated McEwen at the scene and determined he had minor injuries. He was not transported to the hospital, police said.

Both the SUV and semi-cab were destroyed in the crash.

There was also a large fuel spill in the road from the point of impact to where the truck ended up going into the ditch, Endee said. Maine DOT workers used sand to treat about 100 feet of roadway affected by the fuel spill.

An officer from the Presque Isle Police Department reconstructed the crash. No charges had been filed against either driver as of Tuesday afternoon.