The Bend Fire Department responded to a reported vehicle fire on South Highway 97, southbound across from the High Desert Museum yesterday afternoon at 4:05 pm. Reports were that this was an ambulance from the private ambulance company 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. They quickly evacuated their patient and got them to safety (3 persons on board – driver, medic and patient).
Highway 97 was shut down in both directions while the fire was extinguished due to fire crews in the roadway and drifting smoke that limited visibility on the road. Northbound was fully re-opened after 20 minutes and southbound was opened to one lane 15 minutes after that. Full opening was expected to be another hour, after the tow trucks removal of the vehicle.
Bend Fire crews extinguished the fire, which was aided by the leaking oxygen tanks inside, and removed any salvageable equipment from the back of the vehicle. A Bend Fire ambulance assisted the crew with the patient until another Adventure Medic crew arrived to continue the trip to the patients destination.
The cause 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. ODOT and OSP assisted with traffic control.
Source: Bend Fire