The smell of diesel and smoke filled the air as Flames and emergency vehicle lights lit up the sky around I-75 Northbound...
Chattanooga firefighters worked to extinguish the fire...which burned so hot it transformed the cab of an 18 wheeler...to this... in a matter of minutes.
Over-the-road driver Rod Tehas quickly escaped before the truck became engulfed in flames.
"I've been driving 23 years, and I've never experienced anything like this," Tehas says.
The cargo in the JB Hunt Trailer managed to survive the blaze... But Tehas says his other possessions... are gone.
"There's not much I can say. It's just completely gone. All my personal belongings are in there. Wallet, ID, Credit Cards, so that's about it," Tehas says.
Tehas, a solo driver, was headed from La Grange, Georgia to Cleveland, Tennessee... A 130 mile journey he described as a 'short trip', but something went terribly wrong.
Tehas says the check engine light came on and then went off. It wasn't until he saw flames rising up in the lower quarters of the windshield that he knew he had to get out-- right away.
Tehas thought fast... Pulling the truck off the road, then managing to grab his cell phone to call 9-1-1.
Looking back at the blackened frame of his truck, this is how Tehas describes his escape:
"Extremely lucky, yes. I am very thankful that, as bad as it looks I'm alive, that's the main thing. Any cargo can always be replaced, as well as the tractor, but you can't replace a human life," Tehas says.
Still, Tehas says, after driving 23 years it just might be time to hang it up.
In Chattanooga, Brittany Shaw, WDEF News 12.