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Fiery Crash Shuts Down I-79 For 2 Hours

WEXFORD (KDKA)- Drivers hit a major snag in their morning commute along Interstate 79 in Wexford.

Around 5:15 a.m., a car crashed and became partially wedged underneath a tractor-trailer near the I-279 split in the southbound lanes. The car caught fire, forcing police to shut down all of the southbound lanes.

Air Force Senior Master Sergeant Bruce Zimmerman was on his way to work, when he saw the accident and sprang into action.

"When I got up to the car, there was still a gentleman inside. He was pinned underneath the steering wheel and the dashboard," Sgt. Zimmerman said. "I moved some debris out from under his leg and pulled up on the steering wheel a little bit. And the tractor-trailer driver and I pulled the gentleman out."

Zimmerman said the man's right leg was bleeding and he took him to the safety of his own car, while emergency crews shut down I-79.

A few minutes later, Zimmerman and the truck driver smelled smoke as the car caught on fire.

"The tractor-trailer actually dragged him for quite a ways before it actually stopped," Sgt. Zimmerman said. "The rear tire of the tractor-trailer was actually in the vehicle with him."

Franklin Park Fire Department officials said they had several trucks on scene, but ran out of water. As a result, they called in Ohio Township fire crews, who used foam to extinguish the flames.

I-79 southbound was closed for more than two hours. All lanes did reopen around 7:15 a.m., but heavy delays were experienced in the area throughout the morning.

The tractor-trailer, which was hauling rock salt, was damaged in the accident. However, the cargo is not believed to have been damaged.

As for being called a hero for his actions this morning, a modest Sgt. Zimmerman had this to say.

"I didn't look at it like that. I was there. It was the right thing to do to help someone that needs help. I'm glad I was there and I'm glad he's ok," he said.

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