Engine fire prompts closure of U.S. Highway 101 between Port Angeles and Sequim
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Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
Clallam County Fire District No. 3 firefighters mop up the scene after a sawdust truck belonging to Hermann Bros. experienced an engine compartment fire Tuesday on U.S. Highway 101 east of Sherburne Road between Port Angeles and Sequim.

By Arwyn Rice
Peninsula Daily News

SEQUIM — An engine fire in a semitruck loaded with sawdust prompted the one-hour closure of all of U.S. Highway 101 between Port Angeles and Sequim on Tuesday.

The fire began in a white 1992 Kenworth driven by Michael J. Thompson, 39, of Port Angeles, according to State Patrol Trooper Mark Hodgson.

Thompson was not hurt.

Smoke, then fire

Thompson told the State Patrol that he was driving eastbound on Highway 101 near Barr Road at about 10:30 a.m. when the truck's engine began to smoke.

He pulled to the shoulder of the road just east of Sherburne Road, and the engine caught fire.

All lanes of Highway 101 were blocked first by the fire, then for emergency vehicles responding to the fire, for one hour.

The roadway was partially blocked for another hour.

It was fully reopened at about 12:30 p.m.

“It appears to have been primarily an engine compartment fire. It burned through the cab and into the sawdust,” said Assistant Chief Ben Andrews with Clallam County Fire District No. 3.

The sawdust had only just caught fire when firefighters extinguished the flames, Andrews said.

The Kenworth truck was destroyed and towed by Evergreen Towing, the State Patrol said.

No other vehicle was involved.

The stretch of Highway 101 where the truck caught fire is now under construction as the state widens the highway to four lanes on the 3.5-mile segment between Kitchen-Dick and Shore roads in a $27.1 million project.

Traffic now uses the newly constructed eastbound lanes and the new eastbound McDonald Creek bridge while the older westbound lanes are repaved and a new westbound bridge is constructed over McDonald Creek.

Transportation officials have said the widening project will be completed by the end of this year.

Once completed, motorists will have two lanes in both directions, east and west, for the entire 13-mile leg between east Port Angeles and west Sequim.

Fire District No. 3 responded to the fire with 12 firefighters, two trucks, one tender, an ambulance and two command vehicles.

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Reporter Arwyn Rice can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5070, or at arwyn.rice@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: March 11. 2014 7:24PM
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