Emergency personnel respond to truck fire on Interstate 84 near La Grande

May 12—LA GRANDE — A truck fire on Interstate 84 near La Grande triggered explosions but caused no injuries on Friday, May 12.

The fire broke out at about 10:20 a.m. after the engine of a truck pulling a trailer filled with frozen food malfunctioned, forcing the driver to pull over on the eastbound lane of I-84. The driver, who had no passengers, next noticed flames coming out of his truck. The driver then exited the cab of his vehicle and unsuccessfully attempted to extinguish the fire.

Crews from the La Grande Fire and La Grande Rural fire departments then arrived to put out the fire.

"The cab was fully engulfed," said Robbie Routt, a senior trooper with the Oregon State Police.

Both eastbound lanes were closed for at least 30 minutes while the fire was being put out.

One tire on the truck and several portions of the truck's engine exploded during the fire, according to the Oregon State Police.

The fire departments and OSP were assisted at the scene by the Oregon Department of Transportation.

A number of motorists in the adjacent westbound lane of I-84, about 20 yards away, stopped to watch and take photos. Routt said this is a dangerous thing because onlookers are at risk of being hit by items sent sailing by explosions during vehicle fires. Routt noted that an explosion could have easily blown a tire across the median and seriously hurt a bystander.

"Those tires are quite heavy," Routt said.

The senior trooper also said that people standing on the side of the freeway watching a vehicle fire are at risk of being hit by passing traffic because drivers are often distracted by a fire.

"People who are outside their vehicles can cause secondary crashes," Routt said.

Dick Mason is a reporter with The Observer. Contact him at 541-624-6016 or dmason@lagrandeobserver.com.