Fire officials in Portland say a tractor-trailer rig hauling a huge steel and concrete beam overturned on a bridge and a nearby car was crushed.
KATU-TV reports that a worker steering the rear wheels of the giant truck jumped out Tuesday afternoon and pulled a young woman from the crushed car.
Portland Fire Lt. Rich Chatman says both vehicles caught fire. Chatman says the woman was taken to a hospital for treatment of arm injuries. No one else was hurt.
The truck was driving northbound on Interstate 5 across the Marquam Bridge when the accident occurred. Police are investigating.
The TriMet regional transit agency says the 170-feet-long girder was being transported for a contractor working on the Portland-Milwaukie light rail project.
The crash, fire and cleanup closed the northbound lanes for hours.
Portland Fire and Rescue News Release
At 3:02pm Portland Fire & Rescue crews were dispatched to report of a rollover accident involving a semi-truck.
Information was dispatched to crews that a large semi-truck carrying steel beams and concrete had overturned on the bridge, a passenger vehicle was trapped and both vehicles were on fire.
Engine and Truck 4 (PSU) were the closest responding units but were slowed by dense freeway traffic and inattentive drivers. Captain Carlos Ponce from Truck 4 commented that the situation was difficult because he and his crew could see smoke and they were hearing reports that a patient was trapped but were having trouble getting through the frustrating traffic situation.
Eventually a Portland Police Bureau motorcycle officer was able to maneuver traffic so that Truck 4, which is equipped with special vehicle extrication equipment, could arrive at the scene.
They arrived to find a 150ft section of concrete and steel had rolled off the truck bed and onto a passenger vehicle; both vehicles were involved in fire. Engine 4 used hose lines to control the flames from the semi-truck and vehicle.
They discovered that the driver of the passenger vehicle was pulled free by a driver from the semi-truck company prior to there arrival.
Reports from witnesses were that he braved heat and smoke while trying to free her from the vehicle. Eventually he was able to remove her seat belt and her arm which was pinned in the wreckage. She was transported to Legacy Emanuel for the injuries to her arm. There were no other injuries reported.
Fire crews attempting to extinguish the fire had to request that crews positioned below pump water to the bridge deck via a standpipe that spans from the base to the top of the bridge. Members of the Technical Rescue Team from Station 1 were also dispatched to provide assistance with identifying the possibility of additional trapped vehicles and rescue needs.
The Portland Police Bureau’s Traffic Division Major Crash Team was dispatched to perform the investigation of the accident. Oregon Department of Transportation is coordinating the clean up effort including assessing any damage done to the bridge and method used to remove the 150ft section of concrete and steel.