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Lakeview man killed in fiery Hwy. 58 fuel tanker crash

Roadway damaged; traffic flagged through area

OAKRIDGE, Ore. - A Lakeview truck driver was killed Saturday night when his double-tanker fuel truck left Oregon Highway 58, overturned and burst into flames, a fire so intense it damaged the roadway, OSP and ODOT reported Monday.

Around 10:40 p.m. Saturday, OSP troopers and emergency personnel responded to the reported crash near milepost 20, about 14 miles northwest of Oakridge, said OSP Sgt. Kyle Hove.

Preliminary information indicates a commercial vehicle pulling double fuel tankers, operated by Kevin W. Smith, 62, of Lakeview, was heading east on the highway when it veered off the right shoulder, overturned and caught fire. It was soon engulfed in flames, and Smith apparently was unable to get out.

Hove said the CMV tanker's fuel tanks exploded and both lanes were covered by the wreckage and the fire.

The highway was closed for about seven hours while fire crews extinguished the fire and investigators completed a reconstruction of the crash scene. ODOT established detours in the area during the closure.

ODOT spokeswoman Angela Beers Seydel said the truck's owner reported it was hauling 10,700 gallons of fuel --  4,700 gallons of gasoline and 6,000 gallons of diesel. It is unknown how much of that burned in the fire.

Oregon Department of Environmental Quality spokeswoman Katherine Benenati said soil at the scene was being excavated and they did not know as of Monday morning if any of the fuel had reached a waterway.

ODOT worked with DEQ Sunday on scene. Seydel said contractors were taking over the work Monday and it could last the rest of the week.

OSP was assisted at the scene by several area fire agencies, including the Dexter and Oakridge fire departments, as well as the Oakridge Police Department, Oregon Department of Transportation and Hazmat.

Fugate said the investigation is continuing and more information will be released when available.

Traffic is being flagged through the area, ODOT said Sunday, and there will be short delays in both directions as equipment is moved on and off the highway, due to extensive payment damage to the eastbound lane.

The highway is also known as the Willamette Highway. It runs southeast of Eugene, over Willamette Pass to Central Oregon's Highway 97.


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