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Fire Closes I-5 near Jefferson - OSP Seeks Witnesses
08/13/2008
Senior Trooper Corey Simons
Albany Area Command
Phone: (541) 967-2026 ext. 4200

Sergeant Kevin DelGrande
Salem Area Command
Phone: (503)934-0312

Photograph link valid for 30 days - Source: Oregon State Police
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A fire that destroyed a semi truck and burned over 20 acres of land forced the closure of the north and southbound lanes of I-5 at milepost 239 near the town of Jefferson for approximately six hours today.

On August 13th, 2008 beginning at approximately 12:35 PM the Oregon State Police Northern Command Center received a report of a small fire burning along Interstate 5 at milepost 191 near Eugene, Oregon. Over a period of an hour and a half several more small fires were reported at various locations along Interstate 5 between mileposts 191 and 235.

At approximately 2:00 PM a 1998 Freightliner semi-truck hauling a load of hay, operated by ADAM SPENCER, age 26, of Brownsville, Oregon was northbound on Interstate 5 near milepost 235. A small fire was burning along the shoulder of the freeway at this location. As the semi truck passed milepost 235 the fire along the shoulder ignited the load of hay.

Spencer continued for approximately three more miles before realizing that the load of hay had become fully engulfed in fire. At approximately milepost 239, SPENCER pulled to the side of the road. SPENCER was able to escape his truck uninjured. Both the semi truck and the load of hay became fully engulfed in fire.

Around the same time that the semi truck became fully engulfed in fire, a brush fire started along the east shoulder of the freeway in the area of milepost 239. The brush fire quickly spread over a hillside and moved east from the freeway towards the town of Jefferson. The brush fire, which burned approximately 20 acres, did not damage any structures. At this time it is unknown if the brush fire was a direct result of the burning semi truck. No injuries were reported as a result of either fire, however the semi-truck was completely destroyed.

Both northbound and southbound lanes of Interstate 5 were closed for approximately six hours while fire crews worked to extinguish the burning semi truck and the adjacent brush fire.

State Troopers from the Albany, Salem and Springfield Commands responded to the scene. They were assisted by officers from the Linn County Sheriff's Office. The Jefferson Rural Fire Department and fire units from Linn and Marion County jurisdictions responded to control the fire. ODOT provided traffic control throughout the duration of the event.

The cause of the fires remains unknown and will be the subject of further investigation. The Oregon State Police is asking anyone who might have information relating to the cause or origin of the fires to contact Senior Trooper Corey Simons of the Albany Area Command at (541) 967-2026 ext. 4200.