Driver dead after truck hits train and catches fire

People in the area are being told to shelter

These rail tankers were burned after a truck hit a train and caught fire near the St. Johns Bridge, Dec. 13, 2015 (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A truck driver died after colliding with a train, which set off a series of tanker fires that shut down the St. Johns Bridge and a section of Hwy 30 on Sunday morning.

A massive plume of smoke was seen for miles after the crash around 8:45 a.m. The fire quickly escalated to a 3-alarm blaze and numerous PF&R personnel responded.

Fuel leaked underneath the parked train cars.

Portland Fire spokesman Terry Foster says the truck was carrying some sort of fuel product when the accident occurred on Hwy 30 just south of the iconic St. Johns Bridge.

Foster says 8 train cars were damaged in the Sunday morning blaze, one severely. The rail cars contained asphalt.

BNSF spokesman Gus Melonas says the railways main lines were not impacted.

These rail tankers were burned after a truck hit a train and caught fire near the St. Johns Bridge, Dec. 13, 2015 (KOIN)
These rail tankers were burned after a truck hit a train and caught fire near the St. Johns Bridge, Dec. 13, 2015 (KOIN)

The fire prevented first responders from immediately assessing the crash scene.

Portland police later said the burning hot asphalt would take cool by around noon.

Firefighter Jesse Altig says there are no reports of injuries aside from the truck driver. Altig says nearby businesses were evacuated. He says the nearest homes are about a half-mile from the fire. Altig says firefighters used foam to quell flames, and nearby railroad cars were moved away.

Portland police Sgt. Peter Simpson said a half-marathon race in the area was canceled.

An early concern that there were chemicals spewing into the air did not materialize. Officials said the plume of smoke came from the fuel inside the truck that caught fire after hitting the train.

By 10:45 a.m., the St. John’s Bridge was reopened to all traffic. One eastbound lane of Hwy 30 reopened Sunday afternoon.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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