A semi trailer caught fire just south of the Grandview Road interchange in the northbound lanes Tuesday night, April 9th, resulting in a temporary closure of both northbound lanes.
Fire crews were dispatched about 9:30pm and arrived to find flames coming from the top of the trailer.
Whatcom County Fire District 7 Fire Chief Larry Hoffman said there were no injuries but the fire presented some unique challenges. The fire was fueled by the 53-foot trailer’s load of shredded plastic. They put water on the fire from fire engines at ground level and also from a fire engine positioned on the overpass.
The driver disconnected the truck cab from the trailer and was not injured in the fire, according to Hoffman.
The smoldering trailer was able to be pulled to the WSDOT maintenance yard by the northbound Custer rest area in order to clear the roadway.
Both lanes of northbound I-5 were reopened at 10:30pm. But it was expected the rest area would be closed for several hours while firefighters continued to work on the trailer fire.
Hoffman said at 11:30pm he expected firefighters would be working a couple more hours to completely extinguish the fire. This was going to require unloading the plastic from the trailer and hosing it down. Fortunately, Hoffman pointed out, the trailer has a moving floor for easy unloading.
The cause of the fire is not known but Hoffman said it was likely accidental.
Washington State Patrol Trooper Heather Axtman said there were no charges as a result of the fire.