A driver dodged disaster after his pickup truck caught fire in the northwest metro during the height of the Thursday morning commute, sending plumes of dark smoke into the sky and backing up traffic for miles.
The blaze erupted about 7:30 a.m. on southbound Hwy. 169, just north of 63rd Avenue, leaving the pickup a blackened shell in the right-hand lane as traffic came to a halt for 4 miles through Maple Grove and into Brooklyn Park.
The driver was able to escape the burning pickup uninjured, according to a spokesman for the Minnesota Department of Transportation.
Maple Grove fire personnel responded and shut down the highway until about 7:50 a.m., when vehicles were allowed to pass the wreckage. The last of the fire crews left about 9 a.m., allowing all lanes to fully reopen.