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Emergency crews were called by the truck’s driver on Thursday afternoon to the stretch of highway near the Tobiano resort, which is about a 20-minute drive from downtown Kamloops in the province’s Interior

Homes have been evacuated near a stretch of the Trans-Canada Highway west of Kamloops, B.C., because police say a semi-trailer hauling about 40,000 kilograms of the highly explosive ammonium nitrate is on fire, Kamloops This Week and CHNL report.

Emergency crews were called by the truck's driver on Thursday afternoon to the stretch of highway near the Tobiano resort, which is about a 20-minute drive from downtown Kamloops in the province's Interior.

The driver detached the trailer as soon as his truck caught fire and drove the vehicle away from his cargo, police said.

But RCMP Cpl. Cheryl Bush said police extended an evacuation order to a 1,600-metre radius of the fire by 3:45 p.m. "out of an abundance of caution" and rail traffic in the area may be stopped.

She said residents of the evacuated homes will be taken to Cherry Creek Farmers' Market.

Driver Rod Cardinal said he was making his way along the highway when he noticed smoke was coming from underneath his carpet.

"I got pulled over as quickly as I could and I hit it with both my fire extinguishers, and it did absolutely nothing to it," he said. "That's when I stopped, hopped out, dropped the trailer, pulled the tractor as far as I could."

"I got it about 50 feet away. I just hope that's far enough."

Kamloops Fire Rescue did not respond to the call because the incident occurred outside its coverage range.

Kamloops-Thompson School District Supt. Karl de Bruijn said the accident delayed students aboard three buses but they are safe and under the care of the drivers.

The Ministry of Transportation's DriveBC website reported the highway was closed in both directions but is expected to reopen at about 8 p.m.