Alexandria, Virginia  

The Truckload Carriers Association has named professional truck driver, Paul Annen, a driver with Melton Truck Lines, a Highway Angel for his actions to fight a truck fire while making a fuel stop.    

Annen and his student driver were traveling east on I-40, near Palestine, Arkansas and pulled in to a Love’s Travel Stop for refueling when they saw a semi-truck on fire. “There was this plume of black smoke,” recalled Annen. “I drove over toward the truck and stopped a safe distance away. There were several people standing around, watching it burn.” He grabbed a fire extinguisher and did what he could to help. He shared that he aimed the fire extinguisher at the flames coming from under the truck around the differentials. “After I emptied it, I backed away and someone handed me another extinguisher, telling me I looked like I knew what I was doing.”  

Indeed, Annen was well equipped to assist in such a dangerous situation having been a firefighter on aircraft carriers when he served in the Navy. All in all, six fire extinguishers were used. Annen emptied three himself, but was unable to completely douse the flames. “Then the airbag blew and made everything worse,” he said. All he could do at that point was back away and wait for the fire department to arrive. “We didn’t know what he was hauling or whether it would explode, but I believe our efforts prevented the fire from becoming significantly worse,” he shared. 

Annen said the driver of the truck was nowhere to be found. The door to the cab was open. After the fire department arrived Annen returned to his truck. “I was shaking a little bit with adrenaline,” he recalled. Then he talked the situation over with his student driver and why all trucks are required to carry fire extinguishers. He says the thing to remember when using an extinguisher is PASS: PULL the pin; AIM at the base of the fire; SQUEEZE the handle; and SWEEP from side to side.”  

Annen has been driving with Melton Truck Lines for nearly five years. He resides in Tampa, Florida.  

For his willingness to assist, TCA has presented him with a certificate, patch, lapel pin, and truck decals. His employer has also received a certificate acknowledging their driver as a Highway Angel.

Since the program’s inception in August 1997, nearly 1,300 professional truck drivers have been recognized as Highway Angels for the exemplary kindness, courtesy, and courage they have displayed while on the job.

Special thanks to the program’s Presenting Sponsor, EpicVue, and Supporting Sponsor, DriverFacts.