Fire truck engine explodes, causing brush fire on I-82

Fire truck engine explodes, causing brush fire on I-82
The engine of a brand new brush fire truck expoded on westbound Interstate 82 at milepost 116 near Finley, causing a brush fire to spread on both sides of the road.

The engine of a Richland brush fire truck exploded along westbound I-82 Monday evening, igniting brush and grassland on both sides of the freeway.

It started at milepost 116 a couple miles east of the Finley exit just before 5 p.m. Firefighters said the brush fire truck was newly purchased by the City of Richland and worth about $215,000.

It was returning from a maintenance trip in Hermiston when the engine combusted, igniting the dry field along the freeway. The cause of the explosion is still under investigation, according to Richland Fire Chief Tom Huntington.

“Nobody got hurt. That’s the important part,” Huntington said.

It started on the right side of the freeway, then spread to the left side that divides east and westbound traffic due to heavy winds.

Jack Coats, Assistant Fire Chief with Benton County Fire District #1, estimated the fire burned at least 15 acres until crews got the flames under control. He said the flames rose four or five feet higher than many of the vehicles that came to extinguish the fire.

Westbound traffic came to a standstill for almost an hour as white smoke filled the air and fire crews sprayed the fields along the freeway.

At one point, police stopped eastbound traffic because of thick smoke blanketing the roads.

Firefighters with Benton County Districts #1, #2, #4 and Prosser Fire were on the scene.