Authorities close I-95 after accident and explosions - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Authorities close I-95 after accident and explosions

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By Christy Hutchings - bio | email

PORT WENTWORTH, GA (WTOC) - A startling sight for people traveling on Interstate 95 Sunday evening, after a tractor trailer car-hauler caught fire and ignited multiple explosions.

It all happened around 6 pm in the southbound lanes on I-95 right in front of the Georgia Welcome Center.

And while this was quite a site for motorists it was a frightening, extremely close-call for one driver.

"My heart was beating pretty fast," said driver Vernard Monroe.

What Monroe first thought was minor; got out of hand in a hurry. "A car pointed at my back tire on the trailer," explained Monroe, "I thought it was just the tire so I pulled over. As I was pulling over it just blew out.   I pulled over checked the side and it was fine. I ran over to the other side and it was on fire."

Another driver tried to help him put it out, but it didn't take long for it to get away from them.

"We just sat there and watched it burn. The curtains caught fire. I was concerned about the hydraulic line catching on fire so I went way down the street in case it blew up."

It wasn't the fluids nor the fuel in his truck that blew up, but the gas tanks on the four cars he was hauling. They went up, one by one!

Port Wentworth Fire knew they had to get this thing out and fast. And that's hard to do with the nearest fire hydrant some three miles away, so they called in support lots of it.

"This could have been really, really bad," said Port Wentworth Fire Chief Greg Long, "If those cars would have had full tanks, again with the water issue it could have spread to cab of truck where you have 300 to 600 gallons of diesel fuel."

Chief Long also said there was a DOT electronic board directly over the truck.  If the fire had spread to that, that was caused an additional fire and probably would have collapsed.

"It could have been a lot worse than it was," said Chief Long.

And judging from the damage, Monroe knows better than anyone just how powerful this fire was. "Right in the middle that was a Corvette. You can't even see where that was a Corvette. It's gone," said Monroe.

But Monroe isn't. He walked away without a scratch. "That's the best thing. They can always buy another one of these," said Monroe about the truck.  

Police say it appears the breaks on the truck caught on fire which then spread to the trailer.

The southbound lanes of Interstate 95 reopened shortly before 10 pm.

The driver did not get charged with anything pertaining to the accident, but did receive a citation for putting too many hours in his log book.

As for the truck, it does look like a Swift truck, but it is not.

It's actually owned by Accurate Auto Carriers out of Michigan. Accurate Auto Carriers bought it from Swift and never removed the Swift logo.

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