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Fiery big-rig crash shut down I-35 in Gainesville

No one died in a fiery wreck involving an overturned tractor-trailer early Wednesday on the south side of Gainesville, but traffic in the area was snarled for at least three hours, according to reports.

The rig was southbound on Interstate 35 when it overturned at about 4 a.m. a half-mile south of its intersection with Farm Road 51, said Trooper Lonny Haschel, spokesman for the Texas Department of Public Safety.

"It was carrying a load of crushed cars and it entered a curve too fast, flipped on its left side and contacted the concrete barrier which caused the crushed cars to catch fire," Haschel said. "They still had a little bit of fuel and oil in them, and when they squish them, they don't get all of that stuff out of there.

It was a big fire, Haschel said.

"The initial call came in that the whole thing was engulfed in flames, and the driver was trapped in the vehicle," Haschel said, "but when they got out there, that was not the case."

But the driver, Larry Copus, 29, of Norman, Okla., had a broken leg, Haschel said.

Meanwhile, traffic was diverted at FM 51 to FM 1306, where it was allowed back onto the interstate.

"They had to divert traffic while the firefighting apparatus was on scene," Haschel said. "They cleared it at 7 a.m."

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