The front section of a tractor trailer carrying cotton bales burst into flames Thursday afternoon while traveling northbound on U.S. 321, spilling diesel fuel and shutting down an off-ramp.
No one was injured in the incident, and fire officials said the driver stopped and fled the vehicle before flames became too intense.
The incident occurred just after 1 p.m. on the off-ramp at exit 24, Lincolnton Fire Chief Mike Lee said.
While fire officials are not positive as to what caused the incident, they believe it may have been mechanical in nature.
Within minutes of arriving on the scene, fire crews had all flames extinguished. However, diesel fuel that was running from the truck down the highway initiated a small grass fire, Lee said.
All lanes running northbound on the highway were shut down for 30 minutes following the fiery incident.
Lee said 50 gallons of fuel was lost in a side ditch on the roadway, and the northbound off-ramp at exit 24 will remain closed until crews can adequately clean up the spill. Heâ€™s unsure at this time how long the ramp will be closed.
Additional responding agencies Thursday included Southfork and Boger City Fire Departments along with Lincolnton Police, the North Carolina State Highway Patrol and Department of Transportation.