CHARLOTTE — Traffic returned to normal after a large tractor-trailer fire closed the northbound lanes of Interstate 77 at the John Belk Freeway near uptown Charlotte for several hours Tuesday.
All lanes reopened at about 6:15 p.m., according to the North Carolina Department of Transportation.
Heavy smoke and flames could be seen billowing from the truck on the highway near Freedom Drive before 7:30 a.m.
Within minutes, the northbound lanes of the interstate were closed and delays were forming on both sides of I-77.
“When I saw the plumes of smoke from around Exit 6, I rushed to the shoulder of the road to speed up to see if I could give any assistance,” said Jennifer Luzon, a nurse who was right behind Charlotte Fire crews.
By about 7:45 a.m., a view of the scene appeared as if fire crews had cut down the flames and a burnt out tractor-trailer truck remained.
The Charlotte Fire Department said 34 firefighters needed just over 20 minutes to control the blaze.
MEDIC said it took one person to the hospital with life-threatening injuries.
Trooper Ray Pierce with the North Carolina State Highway Patrol told Channel 9 that the tractor-trailer was the only vehicle involved in the crash.
Pierce said for an unknown reason, the driver went off the right shoulder of the interstate and hit the concrete barrier, causing the trailer to go up in flames. Troopers said the driver was cited for failure to maintain a lane.
Highway Patrol said the tractor-trailer was carrying hamburger meat for Walmart when the fire broke out.
Charlotte Fire said in a statement that there is no danger to the environment.
NCDOT was initially called to the scene after CFD said there may be damage to the Freedom Street bridge. An NCDOT spokesperson has since confirmed that there was no damage.
NCDOT advised drivers to use the Interstate 485 loop to reach I-77.
This is a developing story. Check wsoctv.com for the latest.
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