David Gaede of northeast Bend says he “heard this incredible loud boom” Thursday afternoon and, having lived in Kansas for years, first thought it was thunder.
“But when I looked out the window, I saw a garbage truck on a nearby street engulfed in flame,” Gaede said later.
Ariel Bushnell, another witness, said she saw "just flames -- a lake of fire from spilled fuel."
"It was really, really crazy," she said.
No one was injured, but it was quite a scene as the truck from Cascade Disposal burst into flames on NE Bartlett Lane at Livingston Drive shortly before 1 p.m.
The truck was fully ablaze within 30 feet of a home, and the fire was spreading to nearby vegetation amid erratic winds when fire crews arrived, said Bend Deputy Fire Marshal Dan Derlacki.
Firefighters were able to quickly keep the fire from spreading, Derlacki said, adding that a Pacific Power utility box on the street was damaged and crews were called in to ensure the power was secure.
Damage to the truck, valued at $300,000, was estimated at $200,000.
An investigation determined a hydraulic arm on the arm that reaches out to grab the garbage can failed, spraying flammable hydraulic fluid onto the hot engine’s surface, Derlacki said. The fire was quickly noticed by the driver, who quickly called 911 and escaped injury, officials said.
Bend public works crews and a private environmental company were working with Cascade Disposal to clean up spilled fluids and burned asphalt.
Derlacki also reminded drivers to be very cautious when approaching an area where they see emergency vehicles with their lights on. They also said fire hoses are not intended to be driven on, as it can damage the hose and cause it to fail during firefighting efforts.