18-wheeler catches fire after multi-vehicle crash on North Freeway at West Road

All lanes of North Freeway reopened

By Lea Wilson - Digital News Editor

HOUSTON - The driver of an 18-wheeler was partially thrown from the cab of his truck after a seven-vehicle crash and fire Friday on North Freeway at West Road.

Sgt. Thomas Fendi with the Houston Police Department vehicular crimes division said that officers were called just after 5 a.m. for reports of the crash and a burning 18-wheeler.

Thomas said officers found the driver in the vehicle when it caught fire. First responders pulled him to safety. He was taken to a hospital in the Heights with minor injuries, Thomas said.

VIDEO: 18-wheeler bursts into flames avoiding 6-vehicle pileup on North Freeway

An employee and friend of the 18-wheeler driver, Ivan Berdecia, said his  brother was hauling trash to Angleton when the truck caught fire.

Berdecia, who identified the driver as 40-year-old Raul Diaz, said Diaz had just started his route. He said he was on the phone with Diaz when he heard the crash.

He was about 10 miles behind Diaz when the crash happened, Berdecia said.

He said Diaz complained of an injured leg, neck and back.

VIDEO: Ivan Verdcia talks after brother's big rig bursts into flames

According to Thomas, a pickup truck blew a tire in the southbound lane of North Freeway and began to slow down and move over. Three other vehicles also slowed down when a fourth vehicle slammed into the back of the third vehicle, causing a pileup.

Another driver, who police suspect might have been drunk, hit the fourth vehicle and sideswiped another, Thomas said.

The big rig driver swerved to miss the crash, tried to correct and rolled the truck over, causing it to burst into flames, according to Thomas. 

No one suffered major injuries, Thomas said.

VIDEO: Big rig driver survives after truck catches fire while trying to avoid pileup

I-45 north reopened just after 7 a.m.

The southbound lanes of North Freeway reopened around 12:30 p.m. after crews with special equipment worked to remove the burned 18-wheeler.

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