BUTNER, N.C. — Crews have removed the charred remains of a tractor-trailer following a fire that shut down part of Interstate 85 Monday night.
The truck caught fire in a northbound lane between Butner and Providence around 7:30 p.m.
Driver Chris Love told officers she noticed some sort of problem with the truck, perhaps a blown tire. She jumped out of the cab and minutes later the truck was engulfed in flames.
"The load consisted of cardboard boxes. The trailer was loaded from one end to the other," said Maj. Wayne Hobgood of Butner Fire and Public safety.
Thirty-six thousands pounds of cardboard fueled a fire so hot that the work of five volunteer fire departments could not put it out. The truck burned about 14 hours, through 11 a.m. Tuesday. Sand was used to snuff out the remaining flames.
"That was about the only thing we could do, because the foam wouldn't touch it. So we basically let it burn itself out," Hobgood said.
At the height of the fire, the Department of Transportation reversed the direction of northbound traffic through that section of I-85. They had all the cars turn around and head back to the nearest exit ramp.
One lane of I-85 North remained closed through Tuesday afternoon. When the fire was no longer a threat, heavy equipment moved in to to remove what was left of the 18-wheeler.
Truckloads of twisted metal was hauled to the nearest landfill. Investigators say it does not give them much to go on.
They plan to talk more with the driver, but doubt they will ever know what caused the truck to suddenly burst into flames. The driver was not hurt.
The DOT will charge the owner of the truck, Gunther Enterprises of Hanover, Md., for clean-up costs at the wreck site.