5 Suffer Serious Burns In New York State Thruway Car Fire

TUXEDO, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A car burst into flames and investigators said the vehicle was packed with fireworks.

As CBS2’s Brian Conybeare reported, 4th of July traffic was moving smoothly again past a burnt and blackened section of the New York State Thruway in Orange County, hours after an SUV loaded with fireworks burst into flames at about 9:15 Monday night. The intense flames were caught on camera by drivers before firefighters arrived.

“The fireworks were shooting out when I pulled up on scene,” Chief Brian Malone, Tuxedo Fire Department said.

Malone was the first to get there. State Police investigators said there is no question the five men in their 20s from the Bronx and Mount Vernon were carrying fireworks for an Independence Day celebration.

“There were bottle rockets and some Roman candles.” Malone said, “They said as they were driving down the road, the car filled up with smoke, they pulled over, and the car just burst into flames.”

All five men suffered burns, and two of them had to be air lifted to the Westchester County Medical Center — they were critically injured.

Investigators said a large stereo speaker in the back of the SUV may have overheated and ignited the fireworks.

Traffic was completely stopped for nearly two hours on the southbound side of the thruway between exit 16 in Harriman and 15A in Sloatsburg. Drivers were simply stranded.

While victims recover at the hospital, police will continue to investigate where they got the fireworks and whether they were legal. Two of the five were out of the hospital on Tuesday night.

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