Truck fire, accident close Interstate 78 in Greenwich
GREENWICH TWP. Pa. – The cab of a tractor trailer exploded in flames Thursday, sending a thick plume of black smoke high into the air over northern Berks County and closing a five-mile stretch of Interstate 78 East.
The fire was reported shortly after noon in the eastbound lanes of I-78 near the Kutztown-Krumsville interchange in Greenwich Township.
The driver told state police that he noticed smoke coming from beneath his hood and stopped his truck on the shoulder of the highway.
Another driver, who was escorting an oversized load along I-78, pulled over in front of the smoking truck.
He s literally standing right beside his truck, Francis Templin said of the driver. You gotta get out of here, he told him. It s gonna explode, and sure enough it did. It was terrifying. I m standing right in the middle of black smoke and stuff.
The black smoke, rising high into the air, could be seen from at least 10 miles away.
They couldn t get fire apparatuses here because west of here is all closed off because of construction, Templin said. By the time the fire crews got here, this thing was already torn down to the chassis. There was nothing else left.
Fortunately, the driver happened to stop his tractor trailer in a spot where firefighters could reach the inferno from the adjacent Old Route 22.
The driver was not reported to be injured.
The fire closed both eastbound lanes between the Lenhartsville interchange (Exit 35) and the Kutztown-Krumsville interchange (Exit 40) for about 90 minutes; one of the two lanes remained closed until around 3 p.m. while crews worked to remove the charred remains of the truck s cab.
Eastbound traffic was already slowed by an unrelated crash involving a tractor trailer and a car that happened about a half-hour earlier at milepost 35. No one was injured in that accident.