Traffic tangle
Wreck, fire snarl Interstate 20 for hours

CONYERS - A collision involving a truck carrying propane tanks and a forklift ended up causing far less damage than it could have Monday afternoon, but it blocked eastbound traffic on Interstate 20 for several hours.

A flatbed truck carrying a forklift and propane was traveling eastbound on I-20 when it struck an abandoned Crown Victoria Ford sedan parked on the right side of the highway shortly after 2 p.m. Monday, Rockdale County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Sgt. Jodi Shupe said.

The impact destroyed the front of the car and caused the forklift to come loose and strike the cab of the truck, igniting a fire. Units with the Rockdale County Fire Department arrived at the scene and were confronted with propane gas and diesel fuel leaking from the wreck, RCFD Deputy Chief Mike Lee said.

Both the driver and a passenger in the truck escaped with only minor injuries. The men were not identified by law enforcement officers and were taken to Rockdale Medical Center, where they were treated and released, Shupe said.

The cause of the collision was being investigated. The truck was registered to Moore Machinery Movers of College Park. The owner of the Crown Victoria was unknown . Shupe said the car had just been tagged before the wreck by an RCSO deputy as an abandoned vehicle to be towed away.

"The driver of the truck said he heard something snap in his steering column," Shupe said. "He then said he lost control of the truck and veered right and into the parked car in the emergency lane."

Lee said neither of the propane tanks aboard the flatbed exploded. The pressure safety release worked properly on the tank mounted onto the forklift, but the spare tank was leaking from around its valve.

Firefighters kept a close eye on the propane tank and leaking diesel as they fought the fire that had engulfed the truck.

"We were working on three big issues coming from the wreck - parts of the truck had been strewn across three lanes of traffic, the fire in the truck and the leaking LP (propane) and fuel problems. It kept us busy for awhile," Lee said, adding that three fire department engines and a squad responded to the fire.

All eastbound lanes were closed for a short while to allow an ambulance and firefighters to the scene of the wreck, which occurred between the Sigman Road and West Avenue exits. Traffic was diverted onto Smyrna Road to Klondike Road to allow motorists to get back onto the interstate at West Avenue, Shupe said.

Iris Drive, the access road south of the interstate, was closed to allow hoses to access a nearby fire hydrant.

Eventually, one eastbound lane of traffic was opened with help from the Georgia Department of Transportation. All lanes were expected to be open by 5 p.m., Shupe said.

Jay Jones can be reached at jay.jones@rockdalecitizen.com.