A commercial truck caught fire due to a blown tire and resulting crash, and that closed Interstate 5 northbound near Albany for more than three hours on Thursday morning, according to authorities.
The wreck “damaged the right front part of the truck, and that punctured his diesel tank,” leading to the blaze, said Trooper Richard Culley of the Oregon State Police.
The diesel likely was ignited by a spark as the semitruck rode along the guardrail, leaving a trail of spilled fuel before coming to a stop near milepost 231, about one mile south of Grand Prairie Road, Culley added.
The driver was able to get out of the vehicle just as it was catching fire. The rig, owned by Compass Transport LLC of Portland, was hauling a 53-foot trailer loaded with cardboard.
“The vehicle was burnt down to the metal,” said Sandy Roberts, Albany Fire Department spokeswoman.
While the operator wasn’t injured, Interstate 5 northbound was completely closed from when the crash was reported, at 5:51 a.m., to about 9:10 a.m., Roberts said.
“We had traffic backed up on northbound I-5 for quite some time,” said Cary Vonasek, interim chief for the Tangent Rural Fire District.
Culley estimated that when he arrived at the fire, about a half-hour after the report, traffic was stacked for about two miles in the northbound lanes.
Another commercial truck driver witnessed the crash, Culley said. The witness said the rig was operating normally, then suddenly jerked to the right, Culley added.
Debris removal on the shoulder of the highway was still going on as of noon on Thursday.
The Lebanon Fire Department and the Oregon Department of Transportation assisted on the scene, and the Jefferson Fire District helped cover calls for Albany, Roberts said.