An Anderson, South Carolina man is lucky to be alive after the tractor trailer he was driving overturned and caught fire near Hiawassee this morning. The crash happened around 7:30 a.m. Sgt. Jonathan Barrett with the Georgia State Patrol says 28-year old Brandon Hamby was traveling west on SR 2/US 76 when his tire blew while he was negotiating a curve. His truck overturned and struck the guardrail. Hamby escaped by kicking out the front windshield as the truck – loaded with more than 6,000 gallons of gasoline – caught fire.
Barrett says Hamby suffered minor injuries. He was transported to Chatuge Regional Hospital in Hiawassee for treatment.
UPDATED: Towns County highway reopens after fiery crash
It took firefighters three hours to put out the blaze. The inferno shut down SR 2/US 76 between Hiawassee and Clayton. The road is expected to remain closed for most of today.
Traffic on the Rabun County side is now being detoured along Highway 197 North. Traffic on the Towns County side is being detoured along 75 South.
Crews with the Georgia Department of Transportation have now assessed the damage. They plan to reopen the highway later today.
“We hope to reopen Highway 2 by 4 p.m. today. The pavement will be rough until we can remove the damaged layer of asphalt tomorrow. The fire melted the tar out of the asphalt leaving only the gravel. An area almost one lane wide and 528 feet long will be removed and replaced tomorrow. One lane will be closed beginning at 9 a.m. to 4p.m. for the repair work,” explained Brent Cook, Georgia DOT District Engineer serving Northeast Georgia.