Driver, passenger escape burning vehicle after striking mattress
Two women escaped an automobile fire without injuries Sunday evening after the Sport Utility Vehicle they were in struck a mattress on I-494.
The women were traveling northbound on I-494 around 6:30 p.m. when they ran over the mattress that was laying on the freeway, a Woodbury Public Safety report stated.
The mattress got caught under the SUV as the driver attempted to exit onto Valley Creek Road.
The vehicle's catalytic converter ignited the mattress as the vehicle's undercarriage dragged it up the exit ramp, said assistant fire chief John Wallgren.
Tricia Wood and her husband James were in a car that was following the vehicle up the exit ramp and called 911 as they pulled over to assist the women.
The two women got out of the car and the Woods invited them to sit in their car for the authorities to arrive.
Wood said they were at a safe distance from the burning vehicle when it exploded into flames.
"I had only seen (something like this) in the movies," Wood said.
Woodbury firefighters arrived at the seen and closed the exit ramp as they extinguished the flames.
Tricia Wood said she heard the driver, a woman from Wisconsin, tell her husband in a phone conversation "...for real. The car is blown up in flames. I need a rental car!"
Wallgren said authorities were not able to locate the vehicle that lost the mattress on the interstate.
Woodbury firefighters have responded to similar vehicle fires in the past, he said.
"You just have people every so often that aren't tying down what they are hauling properly, and unfortunately, that can become a road hazard," Wallgren said.