First person on the scene recounts early Friday wreck that shook New Castle | PostIndependent.com

First person on the scene recounts early Friday wreck that shook New Castle

Photo taken at site of wreck in New Castle early Friday.

Eastbound Interstate 70 was closed most of Friday at New Castle for cleanup after a semitractor-trailer burst into flames in the early morning.

Colorado State Patrol Trooper Ivan Alvardo said two motorcycle riders were heading down the highway when a bear forced them to come to a complete stop.

A semi hit one of the motorcycles from behind, and sparks from the collision ignited the truck. Rifle resident Andrew Whiteside was driving on I-70 at the time and was the first on the scene to what he described as a series of explosions.

“Once the fire hit the cabin it just ignited,” he said. “Flames were coming off the truck 15 to 20 feet.”

He said that he was putting fires out in the median when an explosion from the truck ignited a fireball that launched him off his feet.

“Even just being in the median, 30 feet from the truck, it was hot,” he added.

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Paramedics checked Whiteside for smoke inhalation when they arrived, and he later went to the emergency room in Rifle.

He said he was having a little trouble breathing, but was otherwise  uninjured.

Alvardo said both motorcycle riders were transported to the hospital, one suffering a broken wrist, but no other injuries were reported. State Patrol received the initial call at 3:37 a.m.