Car damaged as truck blows up in drama on PMB N3 route

2010-07-22 00:00

A TRUCK driver and his assistant dived for cover as their horse and trailer exploded and was reduced to ashes on the N3 in Pietermaritzburg yesterday evening.

The driver, Gcina Mbhele (27), said the fire started in the fuse box on the left side of the cab. He said that as he tried to put out the fire, his assistant, Lucky Ngqulunga, was throwing out their belongings.

The incident happened on the northbound N3 a short distance from Chota Motala Road off-ramp at about 6.30 pm.

“After I had just passed the [Chota Motala] bridge, I smelled smoke. I parked and went to investigate only to find that the fuse box was burning. I tried to extinguish it, but this proved to be too huge for me,” said Mbhele.

“A few minutes later the horse [cab] exploded. We jumped to the side of the road, and then we ran for cover,” said Mbhele.

The truck was pulling two trailers full of wheat, and the front one was also damaged in the fire.

Mbhele said the truck, which belongs to a logistics company in Bergville in northern KwaZulu-Natal, was transporting wheat from Durban to Bronkhorstspruit in Mpumalanga.

In an attempt to avoid the burning truck, a VW Golf 5, which was in the middle lane side side-swiped a VW Polo in the fast lane. The Golf 5 continued driving and stopped a distance away, but the Polo stopped at the scene and was damaged by the heat of the fire.

Said Polo driver Vuyani Mvulani, who was with a woman and a child, “I was in the fast lane when I was smashed by the Golf 5 on the front left side, and it drove away.”

Police found the Golf 5 at a filling station near Liberty Midlands Mall. Its driver reportedly said he could not stop near the burning truck.

The accident also caused traffic, especially trucks, on the N3 to be delayed for about two hours while the clean-up took place. Other vehicles travelling northwards were diverted to the city centre.

A fire engine from the Msunduzi Municipality ran out of water and another one had to be brought in.

An onlooker, Jason Kroutz, said he was talking to a friend near a taxi rank near East Street Clinic when he heard two explosions.

“I heard the first bangs and I ran towards N3 to see what was happening.

“As I got closer I heard two more explosions. I even got wet as I was crossing the stream to take a closer look,” said Kroutz.

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