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January 3, 2013

Flames engulf car on I-75

Northbound lanes shut down about 15 minutes

BARBOURVILLE — By John L. Ross / Staff Writer

“We just started grabbing whatever we could.”

A teary-eyed Michelle Bargo, of Faber, stood in the emergency lane of northbound I-75, staring at the burning shell of her four-door car.

Bargo, her son, Larry Warfield, and his girlfriend, Ashton Curry, were driving to Mount Vernon in Rockcastle County.

“We were going to meet her (Curry’s) mom,” Bargo said. “They’re in college. We were taking her (Curry) home.”

She said shortly after getting on I-75, the car just “didn’t act right.”

“It started just acting funny,” Bargo said. “Then the ‘service engine soon’ light came on.”

She tried pushing the accelerator.

“It just wouldn’t go any faster,” she said. “And then it just dies.”

She pulled onto the emergency lane — it was between 6-6:30 p.m.

“I saw the car was smoking, so I thought maybe it was the radiator,” Bargo said. “Smoke was coming from under the hood.”

The three of them got out, and she raised the hood. “It just caught fire,” she said. “And we just got out.”

The northbound lanes were shut down at mile marker 26 approximately 15 minutes for fire crews to put out the blaze.

West Knox Volunteer Fire Chief Darryl Baker said those responding weren’t originally planning to shut down the interstate.

“Traffic just was not slowing down,” Baker said. “And then drivers start looking at the scene, and habit makes them steer toward what they’re looking at.”

Baker did say his department was hit with four emergency calls in a little more than an hour and a half Wednesday night, including the three-car crash just north of the fire.

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