Truck hits train, tankers catch fire near St. Johns Bridge

A massive plume of smoke was seen for miles after the crash

A truck hit a train and caused six tankers to explode near the St. Johns Bridge, closing the bridge and Hwy 30 for a time. The driver of the truck died, Dec. 13, 2015 (KOIN)
A truck hit a train and caused six tankers to explode near the St. Johns Bridge, closing the bridge and Hwy 30 for a time. The driver of the truck died, 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.

The driver, Andrew John Lambert, worked for Kenan Advantage Group and was hauling gasoline when the crash happened, Portland police said on Monday.

The 41-year-old from Vancouver was headed west on Highway 30 when he went off the road on the right side, went down an embankment , flipped over and hit a power pole and then the train tankers parked on the tracks. Investigators believe Lambert died immediately.

Train tankers near the St. Johns Bridge after a truck crashed into a train and set the tankers on fire, Dec. 13, 2015 (PFR/Dick Harris)
Train tankers near the St. Johns Bridge after a truck crashed into a train and set the tankers on fire, Dec. 13, 2015 (PFR/Dick Harris)

Fuel leaked underneath the parked train cars.

Portland Fire spokesman Terry Foster said 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.

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

Portland police later said the burning hot asphalt took hours to cool.

Firefighter Jesse Altig says there were 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.

Hwy 30 reopened to traffic on Monday morning.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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