5 killed in fiery I-95 accident

ROWLAND — Five people were killed in a fiery crash Tuesday that closed a portion of Interstate 95 in both directions for much of the day, according to the North Carolina Highway Patrol, bringing to seven the number of people who have died on the interstate this week.

Trooper William Henning confirmed Tuesday that three adults and two children were killed in the crash that took place about 1 p.m. and included three tractor-trailers and three passenger vehicles. The names of the dead have not been released as relatives are notified.

The accident occurred the day after two Lumberton residents were killed in an unrelated accident that also was on I-95.

On Tuesday, I-95 was closed down in both directions between mile markers two and 10 because of the accident. All lanes are open now, according to the state Department of Transportation. Northbound lanes opened at 11:57 p.m. Tuesday, with southbound lanes opening shortly before 1 a.m. today.

The crash occurred near mile marker 7, between U.S. 301 and the South Carolina state line, said Katie Trout, a spokeswoman for the Department of Transportation.

Stephanie Chavis, Robeson County Emergency Management director, said two of the tractor-trailer rigs, one of which was carrying 500 gallons of gasoline, caught fire. Two sport utility vehicles also caught fire.

One tractor-trailer rig tried to avoid the crash by crossing into the northbound lanes, Chavis said. The rig crossed the lanes, drove into the bordering trees and caught fire.

A special response team out of Fayetteville was called to handle hazardous material at the scene, Chavis said. Also working the scene were personnel from the Department of Transportation, the state Highway Patrol, the Robeson County Sheriff’s Office, local paramedics and firefighters and Emergency Management.

There was no information on the number of injured or their conditions.

After the accident, traffic began backing up for several miles in both directions.

The Robesonian will update this story with information when it is available.

In the unrelated accident, Johnny Lee Blanton, 42, and Charles Edward Powell, 43, both of Lumberton, were killed when their vehicle overturned on I-95 near mile marker 24.

According to investigating Trooper M.J. Miles, Blanton was driving a tow truck north when the vehicle ran off the road to the left, he over-corrected, the vehicle crossed both lanes and overturned. Blanton and Powell were pronounced dead at the scene.

The two men were driving a tow truck for Associates Asset Recovery of Florence, S.C. The vehicle suffered damage in excess of $50,000, according to Miles.

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