Thick, black smoke billowed above a section of Ohio 7 between West Wheeling and Bridgeport Thursday morning after a vehicle became engulfed in flames.
The driver, Christopher Washington of Indiana, was not injured, according to Bridgeport Police Chief Andy Klotz. Washington reported experiencing mechanical difficulties a short time before pulling his 2000 Dodge Durango onto the shoulder of the southbound lanes.
Traffic was stopped in both directions on Ohio 7 for nearly 20 minutes as crews with Bridgeport and Wolfhurst volunteer fire departments extinguished the blaze. The flames were large and intense enough to scorch nearby bushes and tree branches.
Photos by Scott McCloskey
Debris is blown in the air from a vehicle engulfed in flames along a section of Ohio 7 between West Wheeling and Bridgeport on Thursday morning.
"We had a call that a vehicle was fully engulfed on Route 7," said Klotz, noting Washington was the only occupant at the time of the incident.
Referring to the mechanical difficulties reported by Washington, Klotz pointed out a stream of oil spots on the roadway leading up to the vehicle. Klotz said the Durango caught fire after it came to rest on the side of the road.
"It started up the road - he was having some mechanical troubles," Klotz said. "By the time he got here, the car had stopped. ... What he explained is the car wouldn't move anymore, so he pulled off to the side of the road."
Klotz said Washington noticed fire coming from one of the tires after he got out of his vehicle, so he "ran up the road" to get away from it.
Wheeling resident Howard Haught said he was passing by when he noticed the vehicle was burning. He also saw a man he believed to be the owner of the vehicle running away from it along the side of Ohio 7 while talking on a cell phone.
Haught said he dialed 911 and reported the blaze.