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Truck fire stops traffic for hours

Standstill on northbound I-205 near Stafford Road caused when semi-truck full of hay caught fire
by: Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue Interstate 205 northbound lanes between Interstate 5 and Stafford Road remains closed this afternoon while Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue firefighters continue to extinguish a hay truck fire that occurred earlier this morning.

Traffic remained snarled on Interstate 205 hours after a northbound section was closed Tuesday so emergency responders could deal with a hay-hauling semi-truck engulfed in flames between Interstate 5 and the Stafford Road exit.

Traffic remained congested into the evening commute.

Firefighters and Oregon Department of Transportation workers removed nearly all of the 57 bales of hay from the truck, breaking them up and extinguishing them one by one.

With no fire hydrants in the area, water was shuttled by water tenders, adding to the freeway congestion.

The ordeal began around 11:22 a.m. Tuesday when several drivers called 9-1-1 to report the truck on fire, with flames beginning at the passenger's side and quickly spreading to the hay bales.

The driver - Washington resident Michael R. King, 53, who works for Hoksbergen Hay Company - pulled the truck over onto the right shoulder and escaped the vehicle unharmed, according to Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue.

Paris Gore, a photographer from Seattle who was staying with friends in West Linn during a bike-riding trip, said he was caught in the congestion.

'We were about 30 cars back, and I rode my bike up with my camera and was actually talking with (King) of the semi-truck who said the exhaust from the semi-truck caught the hay on fire,' Gore said.

'They blocked the entire road,' he continued. 'We were probably there for 30 minutes and there was no sign of going anywhere. Everyone was getting antsy.'

So, Gore and his group - along with a dozen or so others who he noticed - drove through the grassy freeway median to catch the freeway lanes on the other side of the median headed south.

Firefighters were strapped for resources in fighting the flames.

Shortly after the I-205 truck fire began, a home outside of Wilsonville caught fire, also in an area without hydrants. It took firefighters nearly 40 minutes to extinguish those flames, TVF and R reported.

Fire agencies including the Aurora Fire Department, Lake Oswego Fire Department and Canby Fire District helped by supplying engines and water tenders - units that carry as much as 2,500 gallons of water - to help fight both fires.