The driver of a truck which caught fire on State Highway 1, 10km north of Turangi this morning saw smoke coming out while driving through the township.
He pulled over after making sure he was clear from the town, but was unable to disconnect his trailer which was carrying steel from the truck because the fire had started at the back of the truck wheels.
The south-bound truck was well engulfed when appliances from Turangi and Taupo were called to Motuoapa at about 10.30am.
Turangi deputy chief fire officer Micky Sherwood said the driver had been safety conscious by waiting until he had driven through the town before pulling over. The truck had been carrying steel.
The fire had started on the back of the truck's wheel, but the exact cause is unknown.
"Beyond that from what was left of them it's hard to say. It could have been the brakes but he didn't think so because of his braking system. But it could have been the brakes, it could have been a suspension failure where the wheel was rubbing or it could have been the bearings," she said.
One lane has been reopened.