A 74-year-old Prineville truck driver escaped injury when a tire blew out on his rig as he crossed the Cascades Thursday morning. But a resulting fire extensively damaged the truck, spread to nearby trees and closed Highway 26 over Mt. Hood for close to five hours, Oregon State Police said.
Robert Axmaker was heading west with a load of electronic products about 7:45 a.m. when a tire blew out on his 2007 Freightliner truck west of Government Camp, troopers said.
While he was stopping the rig, a fire broke out and began to quickly spread from an area near the front of the truck, they said.
Axmaker got out of the rig unhurt, but the fire began to spread to nearby trees.
Hoodland Fire District crews responded, putting out the truck fire and tree fires in less than a half-minute, using a deck gun and foam, said Fire Chief Mic Eby. One firefighter suffered a shoulder injury and was taken to the hospital, where he was treated and released.
Meanwhile ODOT crews blocked the highway until the remains of the truck and trailer were towed away.
ODOT assessed the highway for damage and had it fully open again around 12:30 p.m.
The cause of the fire is under investigation, troopers said.