Crash at Lake Gaston bridge erupts into inferno

Traffic on Interstate 85 came to a standstill on Monday morning following a single vehicle crash at the edge of the bridge over Lake Gaston that erupted into an inferno.

Three fire companies, rescue and law enforcement responded to the scene just before 9 a.m. after a Suburban pulling an enclosed trailer, loaded with sign equipment from Total Image Solutions in South Hill, overturned in the median near the 4-mile marker in the southbound lanes.

By the time emergency personnel arrived on scene just 12 minutes later, bystanders had pulled the three occupants, who sustained only minor injuries, from the wreckage, and the vehicle and trailer had become fully engulfed in flames.

Firefighters began to battle the blaze, however the vehicle’s gas tank ruptured, causing South Hill Volunteer Fire Department, which initially responded, to call for mutual aid from both Lake Gaston and Palmer Springs volunteer fire departments.

After close to an hour of fighting the flames, the fire was contained, as was the leaking gasoline, which nearly made its way into Lake Gaston’s waters.

Traffic in both the north and southbound lanes was halted as the Suburban and trailer burned. After the blaze was contained, both northbound lanes, as well as one lane on the southbound side, were reopened, however the left lane on the southbound side remained closed for about three hours altogether.

The fire companies were assisted by Virginia State Police and Southside Rescue Squad. Although none of the vehicle’s occupants were transported, Southside Rescue Squad responded with an ambulance and its crash truck and treated the patients’ non-life threatening injuries on scene.

Fire personnel were able to clear the scene by about 10:30 a.m., although the left southbound lane remained closed for clean-up for another hour or so.

Featured Photo: The aftermath of the fiery crash that blocked Interstate 85 for hours on Monday. (Olivia Allison/South Hill Enterprise)