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PLEASANT HILL, Ore. - A man died when his pickup collided head-on with a commercial truck towing a semi-trailer loaded with tires and computers, causing the payload to burst into flames Tuesday afternoon and spark brush fires along Highway 58, Oregon State Police said.
The driver of the pickup truck, Timothy David Fine, 55, of Oakridge, was pronounced dead at the scene.
Officials said the semi-truck's driver and passenger made it out of the burning vehicle with a few minor injuries.
The crash happened at around 5:15 p.m. when Fine's Dodge pickup crossed over the center line of Highway 58, striking the semi head on about 12 miles east of Pleasant Hill.
The trailer full of tires and computers caught fire after impact, sending a plume of dark smoke hundreds of feet into the air.
“The fire from the semi, the heat was so intense it spread to the nearby brush on both the south and north sides of the highway,” said State Police Lt. Rob Edwards, who added that firefighters contained both small fires.
Transportation officials closed down the highway for nearly 3 hours while fire crews worked to control the blaze. ODOT opened one lane of the highway after 8 p.m. Tuesday. Officials kept the other lane closed for several hours while crews used heavy equipment to remove the burned truck and semi-trailer. The highway reopened after midnight.
Fire crews from Dexter, Lowell, Oakridge and Goshen all responded to help douse the flames.