Fire destroys truck, stalls holiday traffic

Posted July 2, 2010 7:46 p.m. EDT
Updated July 2, 2010 11:02 p.m. EDT

Drivers headed to the beach for a long weekend hit a punishing traffic jam on Interstate 95 south in Johnston County Friday evening. A truck caught fire under a bridge, leading authorities to close the all southbound lanes at Interstate 40 in Benson.

Trooper Chuck Alford said, "I could see the smoke from a mile back."

The flames leapt into the air from the back of the truck. "At times, it was over the top of the bridge," Alford said.

Authorities said the truck, which was en route from Norfolk to South Carolina, was hauling furniture. Most of the cargo was reduced to ashes.

The closure spurred backups that stretched for about three miles in both the northbound and southbound lanes. All lanes were reopened just after 8 p.m., but the truck was still smoldering as traffic crept past.

Travelers took the delay in stride. John Rabell said a few out-of-town drivers stopped at his gas station to ask for detour directions.

"My best advice was to be patient and find another route," Rabell said.