The incident happened on I-40 between U.S. 1 and Gorman Street. Anthony McRay, 41, of Garner, was pulled away from the minivan by passers-by before it exploded.
"He was stuck in his seat belt and people were trying to get him out through the window, and all of a sudden, the people pulled the front of the car off," says witness Marilyn Perkins.
"He told me when he was laying on the ground that he just passed out, and that is why he went into the tree," says rescuer John Gritton.
McRay was taken to the UNC Burn Center, where his condition is listed as stable. The State Highway Patrol says driver fatigue played a role in the accident.
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