Pictures from North Carolina DOT cameras showed a thick cloud of smoke over the highway and emergency vehicles.
Police said several motorists stopped to help put out the fires.
In all, there were five vehicles involved. At least three people were transported to area hospitals with non-life-threatening injuries.
Crews opened one lane in each direction to get traffic moving again, but the backup stretched for miles.
All lanes reopened by about 1:45 p.m.