Close call for firefighters during Siskiyou Pass vehicle fire

Jackson County Fire District 5 crews had to deal with darkness, rain and, in one case, a close call with another vehicle while fighting a vehicle fire on the Siskiyou Pass Tuesday night. (Photo from Fire District 5's Facebook page)

Crews responding to a truck fire near the Siskiyou Pass Tuesday night already had rain and darkness to deal with. Their near miss with a semi truck driving past the scene didn’t help matters.

Jackson County Fire District 5 responded to the blaze at 7:17 p.m., according to 911 dispatch records. Firefighters and apparatus arrived at the scene, located on Interstate 5 near milepost 6, at about 7:30 p.m., according to Capt. Aaron Bustard.

A Ford F-350 pulling a small bulldozer on a trailer experienced a mechanical issue while driving up toward the Siskiyou Summit and caught fire, Bustard said.

“It was kind of in a bad area, one of the corners,” Bustard said. “Rainy, a little bit foggy. Just typical weather for this time of year.”

The vehicle and trailer came to a stop partially in a traffic lane, he added.

“So we had to pull past it to get on the uphill side,” Bustard said. “Sometimes with the fluids and all that can come out, we don’t want to be on the downhill side.”

A battalion chief from Ashland Fire & Rescue arrived on scene and parked off the freeway prior to the blaze so he could attempt to warn passing vehicles of the upcoming trouble. While firefighters were pulling out fire hoses to fight the fire, a semi traveling past got right next to the flames.

“Ran over our hose line, almost struck me,” Bustard said, adding another semi almost ran into the burning vehicle.

No one was injured and no drivers received citations for not following the Move Over Law, according to Oregon State Police. The law requires motorists to move over when approaching police, fire or emergency vehicles, a vehicle that is stopped and displaying hazard lights, or a person is “indicating distress by using emergency flares or posting emergency signs,” according to the Oregon Department of Transportation.

“We try to mark it, try to get things moving over,” Bustard said. “But on the other side of it, we have to take care of the emergency, too.”

Crews had the fire out in about 10 minutes and had cleared the scene by about 8 p.m.

Reach web editor Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or rpfeil@rosebudmedia.com.

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