PAYNESVILLE -- Dozens of homes had to be evacuated after a semi truck caught fire early Friday morning near Paynesville. The trailer contained various hazardous chemicals which presented a health threat to nearby homes. The Stearns County Sheriff's Office says the chemicals are described as oxidyzers.

The State Patrol says the tractor-trailer caught fire at about 12:16 a.m. along westbound Highway 23 in Paynesville Township. The driver was able to unhook the trailer and moved the tractor to safety.

No one was hurt in the crash, but 70-100 homes were evacuated as a precaution due to the toxic smoke.

Sheriff's deputies went door-to-door between County Road 85 and Highway 23 from Koronis Hills Golf Course to Roseville Road evacuating residents to Paynesville High School. Residents were allowed back into their homes several hours later.

Patrol Sergeant Jesse Grabow says eastbound Highway 23 is open, but westbound lanes remain closed as clean-up continues. Grabow says it could be a few more hours before they're able to fully open the highway.

Paynesville Fire and the St. Cloud Fire Department Hazmat team assisted in the incident.

The name of the driver and the name of the trucking company have not been released at this time.

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