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Truck Fire

Laurel and Billings firefighters and Montana Highway Patrol respond to a truck fire that closed the westbound lanes of Interstate 90 about a mile east of the weigh station between Billings and Laurel on Friday, July 13, 2018.

A driver was able to safely get out of his pickup Friday before it became engulfed in flames on the interstate, and a stash of leftover fireworks added to the blaze, according to the Montana Highway Patrol.

The incident on Interstate-90 West was called in at 10:01 a.m. Firefighters were still on scene at 11 a.m. just west of the 56th Street overpass, and one charred-looking pickup could be seen with its hood propped open.

The vehicle that caught fire, a red 2012 Dodge Ram, was experiencing mechanical issues, according to MHP Trooper David Hankins. Preliminary findings suggest fluid from the transmission hit the exhaust, sparking the fire, he said. Pieces of the transmission were later found on the roadway, Hankins said.

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Truck Fire

Traffic is backed up about two miles on Interstate 90 after a truck fire closed the westbound lanes about a mile east of the weigh station between Billings and Laurel on Friday, July 13, 2018.

The driver had pulled to the shoulder after hearing a loud pop and noticed a small fire a couple of yards behind his truck, which he was able to put out, Hankins said. 

Walking back to his truck, the driver noticed a fire had started underneath it, which quickly engulfed the entire vehicle, the trooper said.

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Truck Fire

People gather outside their cars as traffic is backed up about two miles on Interstate 90 after a truck fire closed the westbound lanes about a mile east of the weigh station between Billings and Laurel on Friday, July 13, 2018.

Fireworks left inside the truck then began going off, which ignited a small fire in the median that Hankins was able to put out.

The Billings Fire Department put out the vehicle fire, Hankins said.

The incident left westbound traffic temporarily backed up for roughly two miles on I-90, with semi truck drivers and vacationers in RVs walking around outside their vehicles. The interstate reopened at 11:31 a.m.

Westbound traffic was being diverted at the Zoo Drive exit onto Frontage Road. That reroute was responsible for a separate, roughly mile-long traffic jam around 11 a.m., as cars slowed to exit the interstate.

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Truck Fire

Laurel and Billings firefighters and Montana Highway Patrol respond to a truck fire that closed the westbound lanes of Interstate 90 about a mile east of the weigh station between Billings and Laurel on Friday.

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Truck Fire

A man lets his Saint Bernard out of the truck for a break as traffic is backed up about two miles on Interstate 90 after a truck fire closed the westbound lanes about a mile east of the weigh station between Billings and Laurel on Friday, July 13, 2018.

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Justice Reporter

Justice reporter for the Billings Gazette.