Big rig melts down on I-5 northbound near Sexton Summit

A truck driver heading north had to pull over after flames began emerging from the front of his cab.

Posted: Feb 27, 2020 12:06 PM
Updated: Feb 27, 2020 6:20 PM

HUGO, Ore. — A semi-truck caught fire on I-5 north of Grants Pass late Thursday morning, blocking the slow lane while firefighters and traffic crews responded.

Rural Metro Fire said that it was responding to the fire just after 11:30 a.m. and expected long delays headed northbound from the Sexton Summit during firefighting and recovery efforts.

When firefighters arrived, the truck's cab was already "fully involved" and flames had spread to the front of the trailer, Rural Metro said. The truck had been hauling produce, and most of the load that did not burn was damaged by smoke.

At the scene, the truck driver told NewsWatch 12 that he noticed flames licking from the front of his cab as he went up toward the summit. He pulled over to the shoulder and grabbed his fire extinguisher in an attempt to knock down the fire, but it continued to grow even as he emptied the extinguisher onto it.

The driver did not appear to have been hurt.

"Cause of the fire appeared to be mechanical," Rural Metro Fire said later. "The fire was quickly controlled and there was no spread to the adjacent hillside."

Traffic was reduced down to one lane, according to Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT). Firefighters said that traffic was backed up while they worked to suppress the fire but has since opened up to a single lane of traffic.

Rural Metro said that Caveman Towing will be removing the remains of the truck on Thursday afternoon.

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