Southbound morning rush-hour traffic on the outer loop of Baltimore Beltway was detoured onto U.S. 40 today, following the crash late last night of a tractor-trailer carrying seafood products that struck the Jersey barrier dividing the south and northbound lanes near Edmondson Avenue before knocking down a large overhead traffic sign and catching fire.
State Police at the Golden Ring Barrack said the driver of the rig apparently fell asleep at the wheel around midnight.
The driver, whose name was withheld pending notification of relatives, was slightly injured and was taken to St. Agnes Hospital for treatment.
Police said parts of the burning 18-wheeler landed in the northbound lanes but that no other vehicles were involved.
Witnesses reported flames more than 30 feet high filling the air around the wreckage before firefighters extinguished the flames.
Police said the tractor-trailer was completely destoyed.
Southbound traffic was immediately detoured onto Baltimore National Pike. From there, vehicles used Rolling Road to Frederick Road and before rejoining I-695.
That detour was still in effect several hours after the accident and was expected to remain in effect until late morning, police said.
A crane was used to remove the overhead sign from the outer loop.
Northbound, or inner loop, traffic was forced onto the Wilkens Avenue exit for at least three hours before that detour was lifted.