Several people were treated for smoke inhalation, but no serious injuries were reported either on or off the major commuter route.
But at least one other motorist was still shaky long after the fire was out.
Sancha Adkins, a respiratory therapist from St. Albans, was heading north on I-77 toward a patient's home in Ripley when a flash alongside the highway caught her eye. She slammed on the brakes and pulled to the shoulder, as did the tractor-trailer behind her, just in time to see a wall of flame roar across the road about 150 feet ahead of her.
She tried to back up, but the truck behind her wasn't doing the same fast enough.
"I did a U-turn in the middle of the road and literally drove the wrong way on the interstate. I had my hazard lights on flashing, just trying to tell people to get out of the way," she said.
There was oncoming traffic as she hugged the berm on the median.
"I didn't care," she said. "It wasn't as bad as that explosion."
Adkins traveled about 2 miles, got into an emergency lane and got off at the nearest exit, onto Route 21, still bound for Ripley. Then she realized she was still heading toward the flames.
"I don't think it clicked until then. I was hysterical and crying and flipping out," she said.
She tried to dial 911 three times, she said, but couldn't get the numbers right. Eventually she called her office and told them what happened.
"I'm incredibly lucky I didn't die in a fire," she said as she tried to unwind at a hair salon Tuesday evening.
Contact writer Shay Maunz at shay.ma...@dailymail.com or 304-348-4886.