First a van fire, then a multi-car crash snarled traffic for a few hours Tuesday morning on Highway 97 just south of Bend.
The van fire happened just after 10 a.m. and closed both lanes of the highway about 9 miles south of Bend for about a half hour. The fire started under the hood and was contained to the van in the shoulder of the southbound lanes, but officials were concerned that some of the cargo – nitrogen and two oxyacetylene torches – forcing the closure of northbound lanes as well. The southbound lanes reopened about 10:30.
At 11:45, ODOT reported a 5-car crash had closed the southbound lanes, this time about 7 miles south of Bend.
According to Oregon State Police, a driver wasn’t aware of the stopped traffic due to the van fire and was blinded by the sun when he hit the back of a car in front of him, causing the chain-reaction crash.
A 78-year-old man was injured in the crash and taken to the hospital.
OSP did not say if any citations were handed out.
The road reopened about an hour later.