Truck goes up in smoke

By Mary L. Grady

Firefighters extinguished a truck fully engulfed in flames at the Shell station at the corner of S.E. 28th Street and 80th Avenue S.E. last Friday just after 2:30 p.m. No one was injured, but the 1994 Ford F-100 was destroyed.

A 52-year-old contractor from Redmond, Forrest Bender, was driving on I-90 when he noticed the truck overheating and the power steering on the truck failing. Other motorists saw smoke or steam coming from under the engine and honked and pointed at him. He pulled onto Mercer Island and into the Shell station.

Bender pulled the truck next to the gas station's pumps. Station manager Brad Connell saw the flames and grabbed his fire extinguisher. He yelled at the driver to move the truck, which he did, but managed to get it only partway, stopping the truck over the lids to the underground storage tanks. Connell and the driver managed to push the truck further into the southbound lane of 80th Avenue S.E. Street as the engine compartment burst into flame. The truck's two fuel tanks were full.

Mercer Island firefighters were able to extinguish what proved to be a stubborn fire after about 20 minutes.

Lt. Bob Barden with the Mercer Island Fire Department noted that the pump actuator on the fire truck failed, causing at least a three- to five-minute delay in getting water on the fire, making the situation potentially more dangerous.

``It is not that this truck has not been serviced,'' said Barden. ``We service it all the time -- It's just that it is 21 years old.''

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