2 California Marines Escape Unharmed After Transport Vehicle Engulfed by Flames

Heavy equipment transportation vehicles from Marine Wing Support Squadron (MWSS) 373, Marine Wing Support Group (MWSG) 37, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, arrive at San Pedro, California, Dec. 14, 2018. The heavy equipment vehicle will transport gear on a barge from San Pedro to Catalina Island as part of the “Airport in the Sky” reconstruction project. The completion of phase one for the Catalina runway project consisted of the embarkation of utility and engineer assets. (Juan Anaya/U.S. Marine Corps)
Heavy equipment transportation vehicles from Marine Wing Support Squadron (MWSS) 373, Marine Wing Support Group (MWSG) 37, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, arrive at San Pedro, California, Dec. 14, 2018. The heavy equipment vehicle will transport gear on a barge from San Pedro to Catalina Island as part of the “Airport in the Sky” reconstruction project. The completion of phase one for the Catalina runway project consisted of the embarkation of utility and engineer assets. (Juan Anaya/U.S. Marine Corps)

OCEANSIDE -- A large military truck on Interstate 5 in Oceanside caught fire Friday afternoon, forcing freeway lanes to shut down and backing up traffic into Carlsbad.

One fire official said it appears that equipment failure severed the hydraulic line, causing the fire. And the fire's heat led several tires on the 10-tire truck to explode.

The fire was reported shortly after 1 p.m. on northbound I-5 near Oceanside Boulevard, according to the California Highway Patrol's online traffic log. The truck, alongside the road, was engulfed in fire.

A number people who saw the burning vehicle reported small explosions, Oceanside Fire Department Battalion Chief Pete Lawrence said in a news release. Those sounds turned out to have been exploding tires.

And, he said, fire crews -- who could see a large column of black smoke as they headed to the scene -- arrived to find "the cab of a very large military transport vehicle well involved in fire" and a small fire in nearby brush.

Two Marines in the truck were headed back from San Diego, Lawrence said, when they "heard a loud bang and immediately saw smoke and fire in the rear of the cab."

The troops pulled over and got out.

The fire led authorities to shut down three lanes for a stretch as crews tackled the fire. The truck and brush fires were out within 30 minutes, Lawrence said.

The CHP issued a traffic alert. As of shortly after 2 p.m., two lanes had reopened, but the slow lane remained closed.

And the traffic damage had already been done. Sigalert.com pegged freeway speeds at less than 10 miles an hour as far south as Cannon Road in Carlsbad, and warned that the traffic delay could run as long as an hour.

According to Lawrence, the troubled truck was the cargo variant of the Marine Corps Oshkosh 10-wheel drive Logistic Vehicle System Replacement, also called an LVSR.

He said department officials think the vehicle is worth about $500,000, and estimate the damage at about $100,000.

Lawrence said the early investigation indicates that a power take-off unit failed, severing the hydraulic line. Fluid from the line ran about a quarter-mile back down the freeway.

Cleanup took about two hours.

This article is written by Teri Figueroa from The San Diego Union-Tribune and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

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