DADE CITY, FL — A semi trailer truck exploded on northbound Interstate 75 on Friday, severely injuring the driver and tying up traffic for hours near the intersection of State Road 52, authorities said.
The incident took place at 5:27 p.m. The truck was carrying airport luggage carousels in the northbound outside lane, according to the Florida Highway Patrol, when it suddenly entered the paved shoulder.
The driver over-corrected, the FHP said, causing the truck to veer in the other direction and crash into a temporary construction guard rail.
The collision caused the truck's fuel tank to rupture and explode into a fireball that flung the vehicle 300 feet, the FHP said. A driver behind the truck recorded video of the explosion as flames and thick black smoke filled the interstate.
Pasco Fire Rescue Deputy Chief Andrew Fossa said the vehicle and carousels released fuel and oil, which ignited and blocked northbound lanes.
Firefighters extinguished the blaze about 20 minutes later and had to close both north and southbound I-75 for a medical helicopter to land. The truck driver suffered burns over 40 percent of his body, the deputy chief said, and was flown to a local hospital for treatment. The driver was not identified but the FHP said he was in critical condition.