A semi carrying a 160-foot concrete beam overturned and rolled onto another car on the Marquam Bridge, shutting down all lanes of Interstate 5 northbound Tuesday.
The two vehicles caught fire, according to investigators. Firefighters rushed to the crash scene and knocked down the fire, but a lengthy closure continued into Tuesday night.
The freeway finally reopened around 5:30 a.m. Wednesday.
Crews worked to determine how to remove the massive beam that hit the ground, as well as whether that beam caused any structural damage to the bridge.
A TriMet spokeswoman said the 75,000-pound girder was being delivered to a contractor for the Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Transit Project.
TriMet said four other girders were delivered and set Tuesday. The crash involved the fifth one.
The truck route was approved by ODOT, according to TriMet.
The Air 12 helicopter flew over the scene and showed a car crushed underneath the beams. However, investigators said the woman driving the car suffered only minor injuries.
One of the men on the truck jumped out after the crash to see if the driver was OK.
"I come out and I come across the beam and there is smoke and flames coming out of there and I looked and saw the girl down there, she was screaming so I jumped on top of the car and grabbed her and I started yanking her out," said truck driver Mark Cole. "She had a seatbelt on. A little bit of fighting and this and that and she was just screaming, obviously."
He said the beam hit her hand, narrowly missing her body.
"I mean she obviously tried to go to the wall and tried to get out from underneath it," Cole said.
"That was a smart move right there… She was smart too. She saved herself in that sense."
Investigators believe the brakes on the semi may have caught fire, causing both vehicles to burn.
Drivers were told to avoid the area during Tuesday evening's commute. The cleanup took hours.
"This is a huge piece of equipment that's on that bridge," said ODOT's Don Hamilton. "You don't just come up there with brooms and sweep it away."
Police coordinated getting all the drivers stuck on the bridge off of it. A detour was put in place onto Interstate 405 northbound.
TriMet said six more girders are scheduled to be delivered Wednesday for the light rail project.
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