A preliminary investigation revealed that eastbound traffic was moving slowly through the construction zone and had come to a stop for an unknown reason, Indiana State Police at Putnamville reported.
An eastbound 2005 Volvo tractor, pulling a box trailer and being driven by Kundan S. Randwaha, 57, Ontario, Canada, had stopped for traffic when it was rear-ended by a tractor-trailer driven by the Ohio man.
The accident victim's tractor also impacted the adjacent guardrail. The Ohio man was driving for Averitt Express, Inc., Cookeville, Tenn.
Randwaha, who was driving for Transforce Co., and en route from Vincennes to Ontario, was uninjured.
The identity of the deceased driver was not released, authorities said. Positive identification of the driver may take up to seven days and possibly longer. The deceased driver was taken to Marion County for an autopsy.
Putnam County Coroner Thomas Miller was at the scene to assist Indiana State Police, who are in the process of conducting a crash investigation. A post-crash inspection of the tractor-trailers revealed no mechanical factors for the crash.
ISP Troopers Brandon Mullen and Ted Robertson came upon the accident scene at the 30-mile marker of eastbound I-70 -- approximately 11 miles west of Cloverdale -- at 3:16 p.m.
The troopers immediately ran to the second tractor-trailer and noticed the driver was pinned within the cab area of the semi.
The troopers began to assist the medical personnel from CARE Ambulance Service, who were passing by as well, when flames erupted within the cab area.
Utilizing police-issued fire extinguishers in an attempt to douse the fire, the troopers were assisted by bystanders with their own fire extinguishers. The flames, however, continued to grow.
The flames and heat became so intense that it forced the troopers and bystanders to retreat. Trooper Mullen's uniform caught fire, but was quickly put out by bystanders.
The driver remained pinned in the vehicle and perished in the fire, state police said.
The fire was so intense, it took area fire departments close to three hours to put it out. Area fire departments fighting the fire included Cloverdale Township, Reelsville, Jefferson Township, Cataract and Madison Township.
I-70 was closed in both directions during the fire. Traffic was rerouted off United States 40 from the State Road 59 exit (Exit 23) and U.S. 231.
Westbound lanes reopened at approximately 5 p.m., while eastbound traffic flow finally reopened at approximately 9:45 p.m., Wednesday.
One of the vehicles was loaded with cardboard and recycled paper. During the clean-up operation, part of the debris being hauled from the scene caught fire in a truck traveling along SR 243. Fire units were sent to the scene to extinguish the blaze.