Saturday, August 16, 2008

Motorhome Fire Closes Wasington I-5

An overheating motorhome southbound on Interstate 5 between Woodland and La Center sparked a large brush fire that brought traffic to a standstill for hours in the 90-plus degree heat Friday afternoon.

The Washington State Patrol shut down I-5 in both directions at milepost 17 from 12:47 p.m. until 3:30 p.m. while 80 firefighters from multiple agencies battled the blaze that eventually engulfed 10 to 20 acres, officials said.

“It’s a bad time. It’s Friday afternoon, the temperature’s excruciatingly high. It was a bad situation,” WSP Trooper Stephen Robley said.

The fire began when a motorhome with overheating brakes pulled over to the inside shoulder of the freeway and caught fire shortly after 12:30 p.m. The driver pulled forward to escape the flames.

That’s when the blaze spread to the median, then crossed to the northbound side of the freeway, Robley said. The flames spread rapidly, gobbling up brush, blackberry bushes and trees on both sides of I-5, he said.
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