STATESVILLE, N.C. (WJZY) – An inferno raged in the middle of the night at a Statesville rest stop with the drivers asleep inside, and it was all caught on camera. Big rigs were parked just feet from the flames.
WJZY spoke exclusively with a truck driver who says he went door to door knocking on cab doors to get the drivers away from the fire.
Truck driver Daniel Bittle says no one was moving.
“These guys aren’t waking up?” Bittle says to someone on video as the fire rages Thursday morning around 3:20 a.m. at the rest stop off I-77 just north of Statesville.
It was the middle of the night, and all of the truckers were sleeping.
“I looked in my mirrors, and I saw an inferno behind me,” said Bittle.
With the fire raging, Bittle knew he had to wake everyone up.
“Hey move your truck man, that thing’s on fire,” Bittle said on video.
Door to door, Bittle kept knocking.
“I can feel the heat from here,” said Bittle said on video.
His concern was growing as he went through the crowd of parked big rigs.
“You get a deep sleeper that doesn’t want to wake up, it could be a catastrophe,” said Bittle.
The whole time, Bittle kept his eyes on the tractor trailer that was up in flames.
“I knew if somebody was inside that sleeper, there’s nothing I could do for them, I couldn’t have gotten to that truck, it kind of stopped my heart when I thought about that,” said Bittle.
He made his way to the flaming big rig and found the driver, just standing there.
“Is that your truck? What happened? (inaudible) You woke up and it was on fire?” said Bittle on the video.
He told Bittle all he could grab, on his way out, was a fire extinguisher.
“I’m glad you’re safe, your phone’s in there? Let me call 9-1-1,” said Bittle on video to the driver.
Fire officials tell WJZY the tractor trailer was so burned up that there’s really nothing left to investigate, but they don’t believe the fire is suspicious.
Bittle says he rescued five men, who were all sleeping, getting them safely out of their tractor trailer trucks.