Crews spend night mopping up I-75 trailer mess




Cleaning crews worked into the night mopping up a mess left by a trailer fire on northbound Interstate 75.

Henry County firefighters say the driver had a blowout as he neared exit 212 in Locust Grove.

As he continued to drive, the blown-out tire continued to rub against another tire, sparking the fire.

Flames spread from the undercarriage of the trailer and were then fueled by the trailer's load of 100,000 pounds of cotton towels.

"As a result of the cargo and the tires being ignited, we had a woods fire adjacent to the tractor-trailer and had to offload the contents to extinguish it," said Battalion Chief Stephen Copeland.

Flames spread into the brush, burning through 10 to 15 acres.

"The conditions for the woods fire are just right because it's been hot and dry," Copeland said. "All the underbrush and stuff was just right to light."

The result: snarled traffic stretching for miles.

Traffic continued to crawl through much of the night.

Copeland said the only way to stop the fire was to cut open the trailer and remove all of the burning towels.

He said the truck driver did not appear to be injured and refused medical treatment.

Even after the wreckage and debris were cleared, an officer remained at the scene to make sure drivers weren't speeding through the smoky conditions.