WAKE COUNTY, N.C. — A tractor-trailer that flipped and caught fire early Friday morning caused traffic headaches for hours. Crews spent most of the day cleaning up the scene, but officials said it could have been worse.
Officials believe the wreck happened as the Overnight Trucking Co. tractor-trailer was rounding the curve to the exit from Interstate 40 east around 4:30 a.m. However, the exact cause of the crash has not been determined.
When officials arrived at the crash site, there was heavy smoke and explosions, according to Trooper S.M. Harrison of the state Highway Patrol.
Harrison said smoke was so heavy, a half-mile section of I-40 at the U.S. 70 split was closed to traffic as a precaution.
The road was reopened to traffic before 6 a.m. after officials determined the type of chemicals that were involved and that the area was safe.
The tractor-trailer was carrying a mixed load. In addition to cigarettes, chewing tobacco, plastic materials and metal chairs, Garner police said the truck was hauling 1,280 pounds of model airplane gasoline and small propane canisters.
The flammable gasoline was stored in pint- and quart-sized containers. Some it spilled, but authorities do not know how much.
"At the time, there was a threat there, but of course, fire command came in and got the fire extinguished and the spill under control. We've been told there is no immediate danger, hazard or threat to anyone in the area," Harrison said.
The truck driver, Perry Balltzglier, 49, of Dudley, was not seriously injured.
Department of Transportation officials were called out to make sure the bridge is structurally sound. It took crews nearly eight hours to clean the scene.