River Parishes bureau
August 01, 2012
PRAIRIEVILLE — A lightning strike touched off a smoky fire on Interstate 10’s grassy median strip Thursday afternoon that shut all four lanes of nearby La. 73 until firefighters doused the blaze, fire and law enforcement officials said.
The bolt that sparked the fire emitting heavy smoke struck between the east and westbound lanes of I-10 at the La. 73 overpass, officials said.
Prairieville Fire Chief Mark Stewart said he saw nearby a lightning flash shortly before he pulled in to refuel at a gasoline station just east of the I-10 interchange in Prairieville.
He said he could smell smoke while in line for gas and, while filling his gasoline tank, could then see the smoke and flames.
Stewart said he called the fire station for trucks to roll and headed to the fire.
He said firefighters arrived about 2:05 p.m.
Stewart said pampas grass and trees between the interchange overpasses caught fire and caused a lot of smoke but the blaze was brought under control in about 20 to 30 minutes.
He said wind was blowing the smoke under the I-10 overpass.
Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Tony Bacala said the La. 73 lanes under I-10 were closed for about 15 minutes.