(Update: Adding video, more details from USPS, fire officials)
REDMOND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- A U.S. Postal Service mail carrier had a scare on Tuesday afternoon when his delivery truck was engulfed in flames.
A witness said it happened around 3:30 p.m. in the alley of Northwest Seventh Street, between Cedar and Dogwood avenues, on a day when Redmond's temperature soared to a record 97 degrees, one of several broken around the High Desert.
Redmond Fire & Rescue's Battalion Chief Ken Brown told NewsChannel 21 the driver had just made deliveries to a house and a salon in the area. Then the driver went back into his truck, put his keys in the ignition and tried to turn it on, but it wouldn't take.
Then he cranked his keys a couple more times, and still, nothing.
That's when he started to see smoke coming out of the hood, followed by flames.
When the driver first noticed the flames, he called 911 immediately. Until first responders arrived, he tried to take matters into his own hands by rushing to the neighbor's house to grab the hose in her front yard and keep the flames at bay.
That neighbor, Stephanie Wuorenma, said she watched this all unfold through her window.
"It was bursting in flames, and popping and smoldering, and just engulfed. It was crazy," she said.
Wuorenma told NewsChannel 21 Wednesday she’s only lived on that street for a year and a half, but this incident was unlike anything she thought she’d ever see.
"We're downtown, you think you'd see some crazy things, but nothing like that,” she said.
Fortunately, the Redmond Fire & Rescue administration building is three blocks away, so crews arrived on scene within minutes.
Brown said they quickly knocked down the flames, and according to him, they managed to save 90 percent of the mail in the back of the truck.
As for the mail that was destroyed, Ernie Swanson, a USPS communications specialist in Seattle, said they will try their best to notify the affected customers.
The driver did not suffer any injuries. Early indications show this is likely the result of a mechanical failure, officials said.
An article put out by ‘The Drive’ last summer indicates scary events like this one happen more often than people might think. The article stated that at least 407 USPS mail delivery trucks went up in flames between May 2014 and July 2020 – that’s an average of about one every five days.
According to the article, most of those trucks had exceeded their 24-year life span. However, Brown told NewsChannel 21 the truck which caught fire in Redmond only had 150,000 miles on it.