No one was injured Wednesday when a car caught fire along northbound Interstate 95 in Sidney. The Maine State Police said the subsequent slowing of traffic and closure of one lane contributed to two separate wrecks that involved at least eight vehicles and resulted in five people being hospitalized. Maine Department of Public Safety photo

SIDNEY — Five people were hospitalized, eight vehicles were damaged and traffic was backed up for miles Wednesday along northbound Interstate 95 in what officials said were two separate automobile wrecks that occurred as traffic slowed because of an earlier car fire in the breakdown lane.

Eight vehicles were involved in two separate wrecks Wednesday along northbound Interstate 95 in Sidney, according to the the Maine Department of Public Safety. Five people were hospitalized. The wrecks happened as traffic slowed and vehicles merged following a car fire in the breakdown lane, officials say. Maine Department of Public Safety photo

The wrecks were caused by drivers who failed to slow as traffic began backing up and then merging into a single lane due to a car fire that was reported at about 3:30 p.m., according to Shannon Moss, spokeswoman for the Maine Department of Public Safety.

A 46-year-old man from Winslow was driving the car that started on fire — a 2013 Chrysler 300 — and was able to pull into the breakdown lane and escape before the car became engulfed in flames along mile marker 119, Moss said in a statement to the news media. The man was not hurt.

Traffic began slowing and moving into the passing lane when, minutes later, the driver of a tractor-trailer failed to slow and merge, hitting three vehicles and pushing them off the roadway, Moss said.

A person in one of the vehicles suffered minor injuries and was taken to a hospital. The crash caused traffic to come to a standstill.

Moments later, a woman driving a 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee south of that crash scene hit the back of a vehicle that was braking in front of the Jeep. That collision led to a chain reaction wreck that damaged other vehicles. Four people in those vehicles were taken to a hospital with minor injuries, Moss said.

The Maine State Police, the Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office, Sidney firefighters and a crew with the Maine Department of Transportation responded to the crashes.

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