Onlookers at Walla Walla VA help halt burning truck

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WALLA WALLA — Alert bystanders were credited with helping to avert a serious truck fire this morning.

Shawn McCrery, owner of a Tektoniks Corp., a local construction company, was making a delivery to the Jonathan M. Wainwright Memorial VA Medical Center unaware his cab-over semi-truck was on fire.

As he was leaving the VA just before 9 a.m., two bystanders identified only as Steve and Porter noticed the flames and tried to alert McCrery, to no avail. Just as McCrery pulled up to a stop sign before exiting the VA, he received a phone call from a staff member who had been alerted by the bystanders’ yells.

“I wouldn’t have answered the phone, except I was at the stop sign” McCrery said.

He said the fire, only a few feet away from the truck’s fuel tank, was caused by electrical wires behind the cab, and had spread to pieces of wood he uses for stickering loads. He was able to extinguish the fire with a nearby mud puddle.

“Driving down the road with your truck on fire, all sorts of bad things can happen,” McCrery said. “I’m sure the cab would have gone up in a few minutes.”

He added his narrow escape was “providential” and said he thanked Steve and Porter.

Luke Hegdal can be reached at lukehegdal@wwub.com or 526-8326.

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