Richland fire truck starts fire on Interstate 82 Monday

A passing driver caught this image of the burning Richland fire truck Monday afternoon
A passing driver caught this image of the burning Richland fire truck Monday afternoon Dan Whitsett

A new Richland fire truck’s engine blew up destroying the truck and sparking a blaze along Interstate 82 Monday afternoon.

The city purchased the truck about a month and a half ago, Battalion Chief Ron Duncan said. Before the fire department started using it, a firefighter drove it to a Dodge dealership in Hermiston for service.

Problems started at about 5 p.m on his return trip, when the motor blew up, Duncan said. The truck lost power and brakes before the firefighter pulled to the side of the interstate near milepost 116, a couple miles east of Finley.

The firefighter, who was traveling at normal highway speeds, did an amazing job stopping the truck, Duncan said.

Flames from the engine compartment traveled to the field along the right side of the road. Wind pushed the fire into the median as well.

In total about 15 acres of grass and brush burned before firefighters from Benton County fire districts 1, 2 and 4 extinguished it.

Tri-Cities Prep Coach Dan Whitsett caught the burning truck on film as he passed. The clip shows smoke filling the air and flames coming from the truck’s engine compartment.

Westbound traffic was stopped for roughly an hour because of the smoke.

The firefighter was not hurt, and no other property was damaged, Duncan said.

The city bought the Skeeter Brush Truck for about $215,000 to help firefighters extinguish wild land fires.

The Texas-based company has sold trucks to fire departments in California, Oregon and Washington, according to its website.

The cause of the truck’s engine trouble is under investigation. Company officials are on their way to the city Wednesday, Duncan said. The truck is fully insured.

Cameron Probert: 509-582-1402, @cameroncprobert