A fire Saturday afternoon on Interstate 84 east of The Dalles caused a seven-mile traffic jam on the westbound side.

According to an Oregon State Police news release, 42-year-old Melynda Downing of La Center, Wash., was westbound Saturday, driving her 1988 Ford pickup while towing a 25-foot trailer.

At 1:52 p.m. near Milepost 89 the pickup started having engine problems. Downing pulled over to the shoulder, and fire erupted in the pickup. Downing escaped with non-life threatening burns, the news release said, and soon the fire fully engulfed the pickup and trailer.

The fire spread to grass on the shoulder of Interstate 84, and a 20-25 mph west wind whipped embers across the freeway igniting grass on the south side of the road.

Authorities closed westbound and eastbound lanes due to limited visibility and possibility of explosion. Emergency responders, including law enforcement and firefighters, were able to open one lane in each direction as conditions cleared.

Heavy traffic and the fire backed up westbound motorists for seven miles at one point, the news release said, while eastbound traffic was backed up for about two miles.

Police and state highway authorities completely opened lanes in both directions at about 4:40 p.m. Firefighters, meanwhile, fought the blaze until about 10 that night.

The fire burned grass and wheat fields but didn't threatened structures. The news release said it's unknown how many acres the fire burned.

Sign up for our Daily Headlines newsletter

Recommended for you

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.