Durban - A tale of heroism came out of the massive tanker blaze that closed the N2 near Durban, after it emerged that one of the drivers had pulled the other from the burning wreckage on Tuesday morning.
As the tankers were being consumed by fire, driver Phillip Sivara desperately smashed the windscreen to free the other driver who was trapped in the wreckage. The name of the second driver has not been released yet.
Both managed to escape the swathes of burning fuel and ran to safety.
Speaking to News24, Sivara said he had been on his way to Richards Bay.
“I had a break-down and my truck was out of the road. I had put my [traffic] cone behind me. I got into my truck to sleep while I waited for the mechanics to arrive, and the next thing I heard a bang on my trailer.
“I opened my door and I just saw flames. I ran to the other truck because I saw the man was trapped and I tried to break the windscreen, but I couldn’t. I went to find a rock to break it and eventually got him out and we ran away,” the 39-year-old driver added.
‘Everybody was running’
Residents of Palm Drive, which lies adjacent to the freeway, woke up to loud bangs in the early hours of Tuesday morning.
Sharon Joubert, 55, said: “My daughter woke up at about 04:30 and said she heard bangs. There were so many bangs and I told her it was the storm. Then I went to the lounge and opened the front door and just saw flames. Everybody was running and we ran the other way. It's my first time seeing something like this,” she said.
Bystander Thulisile Mfayela said: "Everybody came out of their houses to see what happened and we were scared because there was a big fire. The train couldn't cross the bridge because of the huge flames. This traffic had been stopped since 04:30. This is a disaster.”
eThekwini Fire and Rescue spokesperson Trevor Stevens said the original report said a church was on fire.
“We arrived and established it was not the church, and went onto the freeway to where the actual fire was. We had fire engines coming from several stations to respond to the scene,” he said.