GARDINER – Fire destroyed a tractor-trailer truck on the Maine Turnpike in Gardiner on Wednesday, backing up traffic for three miles.

Timothy Kingsbury, 46 of Blaine, was driving a flatbed trailer north at 12:30 p.m. when he smelled diesel fuel. When he stopped in the breakdown lane to check under the hood, flames erupted, said Trooper Patrick Munzing.

A passing trucker saw the fire, stopped and tried to put it out with his extinguisher but couldn’t.

Northbound traffic stopped as the intense heat blew tires and caused the truck’s fuel tanks to ignite, Munzing said.

Gardiner and West Gardiner fire departments responded and while they put the fire out, traffic backed up from mile marker 105 to a mile beyond the Gardiner toll, Munzing said.

Traffic was stopped for close to an hour, then was able to move slowly as one lane was opened, he said. The truck was cleared from the scene at 2:50 p.m. and traffic in both lanes resumed, he said.

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