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Turnpike lanes finally clear six hours after truck fire

| Friday, May 2, 2014, 1:57 p.m.
Courtesy of WPXI-TV
A tractor-trailer carrying Mini Cooper cars burns along the Pennsylvania Turnpike in Plum Friday afternoon, May 2, 2014. The fire and cleanup resulted in major delays for westbound traffic.
Jason Bridge | Valley News Dispatch
Monroeville and Plum firefighters extinguish flames in a car-hauling tractor-trailer on the Pennsylvania Turnpike as seen from the Saltsburg Road overpass in Plum on Friday, May 2, 2014. The fire and cleanup resulted in major delays for westbound traffic.
Jason Bridge | Valley News Dispatch
Westbound traffic on the Pennsylvania Turnpike was backed up for miles after a car-hauling tractor-trailer caught fire near the Saltsburg Road overpass in Plum on Friday, May 2, 2014.

The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission announced the westbound lanes were clear at 7:15 p.m., more than six hours after a tractor-trailer fire had backed up traffic.

Westbound traffic was at a standstill for nearly two hours after the truck was stopped about 12:40 p.m. along the shoulder near mile marker 53.8 in Plum, near the Saltsburg Road overpass between the Pittsburgh and Allegheny Valley exits.

State police said a mechanical failure in the engine compartment of the Freightliner truck sparked the fire. The flames spread to the first of two covered trailers the truck was hauling, heavily damaging eight Mini Cooper cars inside.

The truck driver, Derwin Allen Freeman of Detroit, was not reported to be injured. A message left for the trucking company, Precision Motor Transport Group in Okemos, Mich., was not returned.

The commission reported one westbound lane reopened at 2:30 p.m. and both lanes were open by 5 p.m. Eastbound traffic was not directly impacted.

Plum and Monroeville firefighters responded, as did Allegheny Township-based McCutcheon Enterprises for assistance in cleaning up and containing any hazardous materials.

A police report did not indicate that any charges would be filed.

Liz Hayes is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4680 or lhayes@tribweb.com.

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