MOXEE — A state snow plow driver was not hurt when his truck caught on fire Sunday evening, disrupting traffic on State Route 24 for nearly four hours, officials say.
The fire engulfed the cab and engine compartment of the Department of Transportation truck.
The road was closed for about 30 minutes after the driver reported the fire about 7:15 p.m., then flaggers alternated vehicles through the area, about 28 miles east of Yakima, until 11 p.m..
Firefighters from East Valley and the Hanford nuclear reservation responded to the scene.
Wayne Frudd, safety officer for the regional DOT headquarters in Union Gap, said heat generated by a flat tire may have started the fire.
The driver noticed the flat tire, pulled to the shoulder, saw the fire and unsuccessfully tried to put out the flames with a handheld extinguisher, Frudd said.
The driver handled the situation well by pulling over and quickly requesting assistance, Frudd said. “It’s obviously unfortunate this happened, but it could have been worse,” he said.
The truck was purchased for about $105,000. Frudd said the department will be able to salvage the dump bed to place on another truck and will try to pull any other parts that are still usable.