MOTORISTS who ran to an overturned b-double and pulled its driver from the cabin moments before the rig caught fire have been praised for their brave actions.
The 53-year-old driver, who was pulled through the front windscreen of the rig, was rushed to Coffs Harbour Base Hospital in a serious but stable condition, as an inferno broke out alongside the Pacific Highway near Urunga.
Coffs Clarence Police Duty Officer Inspector Brendan Gorman said the b-double was travelling north when it veered across the median strip and ploughed through wire barriers, crashing down an embankment on its side about 1.30am on Thursday.
"Police are appealing to witnesses for information and the reason for the accident is yet to be determined," Insp Gorman said.
The b-double had been carrying a load of food as well as a transit van, a situation that alarmed those first on the scene who thought perhaps two vehicles had been involved in the crash as the transit van sat alongside the burning heavy vehicle between the Ballards Rd and Urunga interchange.
NSW Ambulance Inspector Dean Lassau said the driver suffered chest and ankle injuries and cuts to his forehead and leg.
"It was very fortunate for the driver that passers-by were on scene to remove him from the cabin before the truck caught fire," Insp Lassau said.
"The passers-by were extremely quick to move him from the vehicle through the front windscreen.
"This was a serious accident, the truck was extensively damaged.
"His injures are serious but he is stable and he is a very lucky man."
NSW Fire and Rescue Inspector Tony Lenthall said two fire and rescue units and a number of rural fire service crews were called to the fire shortly after 2am, seeing a rotation of firefighters battle the blaze.
"Both fire and rescue and rural fire service worked well to extinguish the fire quickly," Insp Lenthall said.
"The captain on scene reported the fuel tanks on the truck were involved in the fire," he said.
"There was no contamination ... because the fuel was burned."
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