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Brake fire bakes potatoes

The brakes on a semi truck pulling a trailer full of sweet potatoes overheated and sparked a fire Tuesday night on Interstate 5 near Central Point, causing flames to spread to the trailer and gnaw a sizable hole in the side.

The incident was first reported at 11:47 p.m. just north of exit 33 in the northbound lanes, according to dispatch records. The vehicle's unidentified male driver pulled over and was able to disconnect the trailer, according to Jackson County Fire District No. 3 spokeswoman Ashley Blakely.

"(He) did everything he could to disconnect it and be safe," Blakely said.

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The trailer, registered to New Capital Roadways Ltd. of Abbotsford, British Columbia, was blazing by the time firefighters arrived. Video taken by Fire District 3 and provided to the Mail Tribune shows large flames waving on both sides of the trailer when fire crews pull up. Three engines from Jackson County Fire District No. 3 traveled to the scene

Firefighters had the fire out just after midnight, Blakely added. The Oregon State Police and the Oregon Department of Transportation responded to the scene, helping to put up cones and direct traffic while firefighters handled putting the fire out.

No one was hurt. The slow lane near the site of the fire was closed through the night until just after 8 a.m. Wednesday for salvage operations. The driver’s origin and destination were not immediately available.

Some of the potatoes burned in the fire, but multiple crates were salvaged, according to ODOT and witness reports.

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

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