WRENTHAM — A tractor-trailer truck loaded with organic produce erupted in flames on Interstate 495 Wednesday morning after it hit a guardrail and ruptured a fuel tank, officials said.
The truck fire was reported about 3:45 a.m. on I-495 South in the area of the Taunton Street overpass near the Plainville line, Wrentham Fire Chief Tony Marino said.
The bulk of the fire was under control in about 20 minutes but the cleanup operation was more extensive, backing up traffic about five miles during the morning commute.
The driver was out of the cab when firefighters arrived. He was examined by rescue officials but did not have to be taken to a hospital, Marino said.
The truck hit the guardrail north of the Taunton Street bridge and continued for about 500 yards, stopping just beyond the bridge.
“It’s fortunate it didn’t get stuck under the bridge,” Marino said.
Diesel fuel from the ruptured tank ignited on the highway and spread to the truck and nearby brush, which was dry from the lack of rain this spring, according to the chief.
“The truck was fully involved. There was a line of fire down the road, in the brush and up a hill,” Marino said.
A Norfolk fire department tanker truck was the first on the scene. A Wrentham tanker was delayed because firefighters had a medical call about the same time, according to the chief.
Plainville firefighters responded on a tanker truck and a fire engine. A Franklin fire engine also responded while Foxboro firefighters covered the Wrentham fire station.
State police closed two lanes of the highway and an excavator was brought to the scene to unload the contents of the trailer. The burnt rig was then towed away.
Fire officials cleared the scene about 8:15 a.m.
Marino said the state Department of Environmental Protection and the local health department were notified because of the fuel spill.
The chief said no fuel entered any storm drains and likely burned off. It was not known how many gallons were in the tank before it ruptured, Marino said.
The federal Food and Drug Administration was also notified and the state Department of Transportation responded to the scene.
A state police spokesperson said a few hundred feet of guardrail was damaged by the crash.
No charges were immediately issued and the accident remains under investigation.