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Working Tractor Trailer Fire

SEP 20, 2020

Traffic was snarled for hours Sunday in Washington County and Berkeley County, W.Va., after a tractor-trailer caught fire when it sideswiped another vehicle on northbound Interstate 81, according to authorities.

The crash, which was reported at about 12:17 p.m., occurred just north of the Potomac River bridge near Williamsport.

Fire broke out in the back of the rig after it sideswiped the vehicle and struck a guardrail, according to a Maryland State Police spokesman. The tractor-trailer ended up in the median.

No one was injured.

A spokesman for Williamsport Volunteer and EMS said it appeared the fire was caused by the crash between the tractor-trailer and the vehicle.

The truck was carrying an assortment of items, including mail, FedEx Ground packages and kitchenware, the fire department spokesman said.

The spokesman said a large number of firefighters were needed to haul water to the scene and unload packages from the truck.

The northbound lanes were shut down, and northbound traffic on the interstate was rerouted onto U.S. 11 at the Spring Mills exit in Berkeley County and through Williamsport.

The closure clogged northbound traffic on U.S. 11 and I-81 throughout the afternoon and into the evening. Motorists who were above the detour and stuck since the crash occurred were allow to pass by the crash scene at about 3:30 p.m., according to a Berkeley County 911 supervisor.

Authorities then were going to close the northbound lanes again for more cleanup, she said.

Berkeley County 911 announced around 8:30 p.m. that Maryland State Police said the lanes were reopened, but motorists should still be on the lookout for debris in the area.

There were two other crashes on northbound I-81 in Berkeley County that appeared to be caused by the congestion, the spokeswoman said. One near the Edwin Miller Boulevard exit caused few problems, but a second one at about 5 p.m. near the Dry Run Road exit was causing traffic congestion, the spokeswoman said.

Besides Williamsport, firefighters from Halfway, Maugansville, Funkstown and Fairplay helped at the scene. A hazardous materials unit from Washington County and firefighters from Bedington and Hedgesville in West Virginia also responded.

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