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Crash and fire tie up Interstate 81

A tractor trailer carrying cardboard caught fire following an accident early Monday morning on this bridge over Interstate 81 near Edinburg. The southbound lanes of the interstate were closed due to the accident. Sally Voth/Daily


By Sally Voth

Traffic in both southbound lanes of Interstate 81 was moving again shortly before 6 p.m. Monday after a fiery tractor trailer crash at exit 279 near Edinburg closed one or both lanes for about 12 hours.

Sandy Myers, communications director with the Staunton office of the Virginia Department of Transportation, said the right southbound lane had been opened about 31/2 hours after the opening of the left lane. The lane had been closed while work crews repaired a guard rail damaged by the truck.

At mid-morning, a heavily damaged and charred tractor trailer was on the highway bridge, blocking the lanes. Smoke could be seen rising from the overpass above Stony Creek Boulevard. Fire trucks, police cars and Virginia Department of Transportation vehicles were all on the scene. Traffic could be seen getting off the southbound exit ramp and right back on the southbound entrance ramp.

State police spokesman Sgt. F.L. "Les" Tyler said the crash, involving a 1998 International tractor-trailer, happened at about 5:40 a.m.

"The vehicle ran off the right side of the roadway, struck a guardrail, then came back across the roadway, struck the left side of the bridge at the overpass," he said.

One of the truck's fuel tanks ruptured, causing it to catch fire, according to Tyler. He said the truck was hauling cardboard.

The driver, Rickie Allen Robinson, 47, of Gardners, Pa., wasn't injured, Tyler said. Robinson was, however, issued a summons for reckless driving.

Myers said the structure and bridge engineer from her office inspected the bridge after the accident and deemed it safe.

Contact staff writer Sally Voth at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or svoth@nvdaily.com


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