GREENCASTLE -- Traffic on I-70 Thursday was thicker than usual thanks to a state police cruiser that caught fire.
Ammunition exploded inside the cruiser, driven by Master Trooper Dave Furnas near the 34-mile marker on I-70 Thursday.
His passenger was Senior Trooper Brian Maudlin.
According to Indiana State Police First Sgt. Steve Hibler, who is also assistant commander of the Putnamville State Police Post, Furnas was responding to a car accident involving a deer in the median strip of I-70 when his car got stuck in the mud. Hibler said Furnas called for a wrecker and seconds later, the car became engulfed in flames.
"It was literally seconds later when the car was fully engulfed," Hibler said. Hibler said ammunition rounds began going off inside the car while Furnas and Maudlin were attempting to get spare equipment from the vehicle. He said a shotgun was also in the car.
"They had to get back from the area," Hibler said.
Officers often carry an extra box of rounds for weapons in their vehicles. Officials called for the highway to be shut down after the ammunition began to explode, Hibler said.
Cloverdale Township Volunteer Fire Dept., Reelsville Fire Dept., Cloverdale Police Dept. officials, Operation Life and Putnam County deputies all responded to the scene.
Cloverdale Fire Chief Kerry Shepherd said his department responded to the scene at 1:50 p.m. and it took nearly 20 minutes to extinguish the burning vehicle, which was destroyed by the fire. Shepherd said Reelsville focused on a grass fire at the area.
"I think it went out pretty quick," Shepherd said.
The highway was reopened nearly 30 minutes after the incident. After an investigation, Hibler said officials found the fire started in the catalytic converter of the vehicle, which started the grass fire.