An 18-wheeler burst into flames Friday morning on I-45 near West Gulf Bank, shutting down the freeway in both directions in north Houston. Houston police say seven vehicles were involved. Houston Transtar cameras captured the moment the semi exploded in front of drivers. The truck driver narrowly escaped, thanks to an HPD officer who pulled him out of the burning cab. Police say it all started when a truck got a flat tire.

The slowdown caused a seven car crash. The 18-wheeler was trying to swerve to avoid the pile up when the driver lost control. The big rig flipped on its side and burst into flames. The driver was partially ejected and became pinned. That’s when the HPD officer risked his life to get the driver to safety. The driver’s friend told ABC13 the driver was doing OK.

“He’s lucky to be alive,” the man said. “You can see the truck. He’s lucky to be alive.” The truck was hauling household trash. Houston police said all of the injuries are minor. They also said one person involved was believed to be intoxicated. The accident has resulted in the closure of all southbound lanes of the freeway at W. Gulf Bank, including the HOV lane. Two northbound lands have re-opened, but traffic backup is significant. The lane closures may last through the evening commute.

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