Dozens of Vancouver, Wash., and Portland firefighters battled a fire that spread to eight railroad tanker cars and destroyed a fuel truck that crashed into the train, killing the truck driver.
Portland firefighters battled a smoky fire Sunday that spread to eight railroad tanker cars and destroyed a fuel truck that crashed into the train Sunday morning.
Portland police said the driver of the semitrailer truck was killed in the 8:30 a.m. crash, which is under investigation.
No firefighter injuries were reported, said Portland Fire & Rescue spokesman Terry Foster. The blaze was extinguished by 11 a.m.
Black plumes of smoke rose over the tracks running along Highway 30, east of the St. Johns Bridge over the Willamette River.
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When the truck crashed, the fuel it was carrying — which has not been identified — leaked beneath railroad tanker cars parked on the tracks, parallel to the highway, Foster said.
The fuel ignited, burning eight rail cars, but the liquid asphalt in the tanker cars did not leak out, Foster said. He said it appears the semi truck left the roadway and ran into the parked rail cars.
Nearby businesses were evacuated, the highway was closed and a half-marathon race in the area was canceled as crews responded to the blaze.
The affected rail line is owned by Portland & Western Railroad, which operates a number of short-line railways in Oregon.
The company does not expect any customers to be affected, Mike Williams, a spokesman for parent company Genesee & Wyoming Inc., said in an email.
The tank cars “appear to have done their job in preventing any release,” Williams said.
The BNSF Main Line, which carries 30 passenger and freight trains daily nearby, was not affected, BNSF spokesman Gus Melonas said.
Neighbor Josh Golden said sirens awoke him. When they continued, he went outside and saw large plumes of black smoke.
“You could see them just billowing up before the bridge,” Golden said.