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The Villages
Thursday, October 28, 2021

Semi-truck fire near Wildwood exit brings Florida Turnpike traffic to a halt

A semi-truck fire near the Wildwood exit brought traffic on the Florida Turnpike to a standstill late Saturday night.

Traffic in the northbound lanes of the Florida Turnpike was backed up and stopped for almost two hours Saturday night after a semi-truck caught fire and burned near the Wildwood exit.

The cab of the semi and the front portion of its trailer were heavily damaged in the blaze as it sat on the northbound shoulder of the turnpike near Mile Marker 304. Emergency crews received the call for help just before 10 p.m. and firefighters were battling the blaze about 20 minutes later.

Florida Highway Patrol troopers also responded to the scene, as did two heavy duty wreckers and other vehicles needed to clean up the debris left behind on the roadway. And several other emergency vehicles were staged at the Wildwood exit in case they were needed.

The incident forced FHP troopers to shut down all northbound lanes of the turnpike, which left some motorists parked on the roadway for about two hours.

“It was the craziest thing,” said Mark Sullivan, of Oxford, who shot video of the incident when he was finally able to drive past it shortly before midnight. “People just started getting out of their cars and wandering around trying to figure out what was going on.”

Sullivan, who was on his way home from Orlando and sat in traffic for more than an hour and a half, said he could smell the fire burning for about 15 minutes as emergency vehicles continued to drive past him on the way to the incident.

“They must have gotten it extinguished pretty fast,” he said. “But I knew the fire must have been significant to have the turnpike completely shut down.”

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