Bridge integrity called into question after massive fire on I-73; officials assessing damages

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Two southbound lanes of Interstate 73 over I-85 remain closed Friday as crews work to make sure Thursday's inferno didn't destabilize the bridge. One lane is open.

According to the N.C. Department of Transportation, a contractor and a bridge engineer will assess the bridge Friday morning.

While the lanes would already be open if it were a normal tractor-trailer crash, officials are concerned that the heat from the massive fire could have caused damage.

Early Thursday morning, a tractor-trailer loaded with 8,500 gallons of gasoline dumped flaming gas across the bridge and poured black smoke into the skies.

The driver, Carl Wilson Throckmorton II, 40, of Scottsburg, Virginia, was charged with exceeding a safe speed, according to Highway Patrol.

Troopers said the truck overturned after ice caused the truck to hit a snowbank and a safety barrier. The driver escaped before the truck ignited.

The contractor and engineer will look over the entire structure from the bridge tech to the beams.

The NCDOT is comfortable with vehicles using one lane of the bridge. The department is not yet certain the bridge can handle the full weight of vehicles driving on all three lanes.

The Department of Transportation said the assessment will take until the end of day Friday.

Officials expect to know how long the closure will last once the assessors determine if any repairs are necessary.

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