BEND, OR -- An ambulance fire closed both directions of Highway 97 about five miles south of Bend, Friday afternoon. Bend Fire & Rescue responded to the report of a vehicle fire at about 4:05 p.m., across from the High Desert Museum. The ambulance was from a private company called Adventure Medics.
The ambulance was headed south when the driver reported a loss of power. They pulled off the road and smoke started coming from below the ambulance. The driver and medic quickly evacuated their patient and got the person to safety. A Bend Fire ambulance assisted the crew with the patient until another Adventure Medic crew arrived to continue the trip to the patient's destination.
Highway 97 was shut down in both directions while firefighters extinguished the blaze and drifting smoke limited visibility on the road. Northbound 97 fully re-opened after 20 minutes and southbound opened to one lane 15 minutes after that. Full opening was expected to be another hour, after the tow trucks removal of the vehicle.
The cause of the fire was determined to be a mechanical failure of the transmission, which broke and hit the fuel lines. The 2011 Dodge ambulance was in good working order with no recent mechanical issues noted. Loss is estimated at $50,000.
Image (top): courtesy of Bend Fire & Rescue. (Upper right) courtesy Roland Woods.