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Semi burns on Bend Parkway; blown tires rattle wide area

By Barney Lerten
Published On: Oct 18 2013 02:07:27 AM CDT
Updated On: Oct 18 2013 10:57:58 AM CDT

Naomi Eslinger says they saw a semi on fire, driving down the parkway, and the driver pulled over as the flames began crawling up the left side

BEND, Ore. -

A semi-truck heading north on the Bend Parkway caught fire Thursday night, and while no injuries were reported, the blaze caused two truck tires to explode in a thunderous boom heard for miles. The fire alsoshut the northbound lanes for about two hours.

Firefighters responded around 8:35 p.m. to the reported fire just north of Powers Road, said Bend Fire Battalion Chief Dave Howe.

They arrived to find the Western Express truck’s rear trailer tires on fire and flames extending into the cargo box, Howe said.

Crews doused the blaze and partly unloaded the trailer, also cutting open part of the trailer wall to be sure the flames were completely extinguished, according to Howe, who said the trailer had “moderate damage” and the contents only minor damage.

Many people called 911 and were frightened by the loud boom of what Howe said apparently were two truck tires that exploded before fire crews arrived.

Derek Freel, who lives on Brosterhous Road, told NewsChannel 21's Facebook page the boom rattled their windows, and a friend reported the same at their home off Brookswood Boulevard. Others reported hearing the blast along Hollygrape Street and Blakely Road.

Dawn Williams said she was putting groceries in her car at the nearby Bend Walmart when she heard a "very powerful" explosion and could already hear the sirens of emergency vehicles.

"I got there right behind the first fire truck," Williams said, adding that "the driver had already disconnected (his rig) from the trailer. … The fire department was doing a great job of keeping the fire down and police were moving along traffic well."

Naomi Eslinger, who shared video of the scene with NewsChannel 21, said she first saw the truck on fire as it traveled down the parkway before the driver pulled over.

"By the time I had pulled over and called 911, both sides were roaring!" she said. "The smell in the air was horrible."

Howe said the cause of the fire was under investigation, and there was no immediate damage estimate for the truck or contents.

He also reminded to never approach a burning vehicle because “they are loaded with components that can explode under fire conditions, and trucks often are carrying hazardous materials. Your best bet is to stay back a safe distance and call 911.”

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