Car burns to crisp in Gorge as drivers whiz by ‘like there are no firefighters working’

Black smoke billows from a car fire on Interstate 15 in Arizona, Sept. 10, 2018 | Photo courtesy of the Arizona Department of Public Safety, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — A car fire in the Virgin River Gorge was complicated by inconsiderate – or inattentive – drivers who didn’t slow down as firefighters went about extinguishing the blaze.

Firefighters extinguish a car fire in the Virgin River Gorge on Interstate 15 in Arizona, Sept. 10, 2018 | Photo courtesy of Beaver Dam/Littlefield Fire District, St. George News

Beaver Dam/Littlefield Fire District responded to the fire involving a fully engulfed passenger car on northbound Interstate 15 near milepost 13 in Arizona at 12:11 p.m. MST.

The car was pulled to the shoulder of the road and the two occupants were able to escape the vehicle without injury, Beaver Dam/Littlefield Fire Chief Jeff Hunt said.

Firefighters arrived and extinguished the blaze, Hunt said, adding that the fire completely burned the car, leaving it a total loss.

As responders were tending to the scene, Sgt. John Bottoms with the Arizona Department of Public Safety said many drivers passing by the incident did not slow down, even as several emergency vehicles with lights flashing lined the roadway.

“Many motorists are driving by like there are no firefighters working adjacent to the highway and we’ve had several near misses,” Bottoms said at the scene.

While the incident did not result in any blockage of the roadway, Bottoms said in situations like these, drivers still need to slow down for the safety of first responders, regardless of whether they’re on the asphalt or shoulder of the road.

The cause of the car fire has yet to be determined, but Bottoms said it was likely the result of a mechanical issue.

Email: jwitham@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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12 Comments

  • St George September 10, 2018 at 7:56 pm

    Instead of ‘Near Misses’, shouldn’t it be ‘Near Hits?’

    • Bender September 10, 2018 at 10:17 pm

      Precision in language is so pre-Trump. It’s not about the words anymore, it’s how angry or fearful you feel after reading them.

      • Happy Commenter September 11, 2018 at 12:24 pm

        TDS 24/7..hahahahaha!

  • Kilroywashere September 10, 2018 at 9:48 pm

    This report pisses me off. We are better than this folks. I’m going to be straight up. To all the drivers that sped by and put the first responders at risk, you are pieces of …. And one day karma will come full circle. As an example on Sunday this very week, driving on the Red Cliffs autobahn, a guy on his Harley cut between my vehicle and the car in the other lane with less than a one foot clearance. It was a stupid daredevil move, and he could have easily been hit. I followed this SOB for 2 miles, as he sped like a maniac theough parking lots and traffic circles near the movie theater, Starbucks, etc past the Panda, until he was caught at the light where you pull out to tbe right onto Sunset. Now it was WRONG of me to follow this SOB , but I was careful at least. In the end he turned off into a residentual just past Home Depot. I realized I allowed my Karma to be pulled into his Karma. At the local Maverick down the street, I brought up what happened minutes before to the manager I kbow, who was working behind the counter. His response was clear, and logical. This motorcyclist’s days were numbered. All I can say is this is how KARMA works, and by God, you slow the HELL down when first responders are risking their lives to save lives. It may be you someday, or your wife, husband, or daughter. We are not perfect as human beings, and I admit that for myself as well, but the law of Karma is a real thing. Eventually the snake will bite it’s own tail. And yes, I should have left the idiot Harley driver go.

  • utahdiablo September 10, 2018 at 10:44 pm

    Yeah…more and more POS on the roadway eachday, that and the stupid Udot folks raising the speed limit more and more…get the AHP and UHP out there and write the heck out of tickets to these so called “drivers” until you get cramps in your hand…

  • Kilroywashere September 11, 2018 at 5:49 am

    You are on target Diablo, but the facts are clear. There is no meaningful traffic enforcement in Washington County. Reckless driving is the norm. If you drive the speed limit you often become a liability as the flow of traffic will pass you by and make it unsafe. When laws go unenforced, and there are no consequences, then there is in theory no rule of law. And driving behavior in this town is the wild wild west. I can count on one hand the number of times over the span of years that I have seen somebody actuallt getting a ticket. The only exception is near downtown Hurricane where you need to slow down. Tickets are given after the accident or or incident has occurred. Just look around you and at any given time while sitting in traffic at a stoplight and you will see minimally one person texting or using their cellphone which is,sistracted driving under Utah lae.. So drive defensively, and hopefully you will avoid being rear ended while sitting idle on Bluff and have the culprit flee like a coward. Then expect everybody to drive around you instead of stopping to help or ask if you are ok. That is still only 6 months ago for me.

  • Kilroywashere September 11, 2018 at 6:05 am

    Ugh, excuse the typos. Sorry about that. It’s early AM. We have to police ourselves, and try not to let the bastards get us down. The truth is that first responders deserve respect from all drivers when they are responding to roadside emergencies. And yes they have been struck and killed doing their jobs by idiots like those who drove by mentioned in the article above. It is not a rare occurrence.

  • MCDavo September 11, 2018 at 7:47 am

    Highway Patrol escort is the only remedy for these situations. Yes it may increase the delay through the gorge, but it will prevent a catastrophe from happening that will shut down the gorge for sure and protect those who are trying to do their jobs responding to incidents. Sure, it will probably take an additional resource for Arizona, but it appears the traffic and speed now require additional attention. Also, AZ, NV, and UT seem to have an outstanding law enforcement cooperative effort from Mesquite through St. George that could possibly help with situations like these. The gorge has become quite an unsafe highway to be left on its’ own.

  • Striker4 September 11, 2018 at 9:05 am

    LOL ….take a chill pill already !

  • Jeffery September 11, 2018 at 2:10 pm

    I’m from NC and have been through the gorge at least a hundred times. I would not slow down in a curve “cause I’m gonna be the next one hit. Went through one night with a friend who was screaming for me to slow down. I told him to look back and decide if he wanted an eighteen wheeler going right through us. The gorge is truly a free for all.

  • AnnieMated September 12, 2018 at 7:47 am

    Ive found that if you maintain the speed limit and ignore all the scumbags tailgating, texting, swerving and cutting people off as they barrel down the road doing 15-20 over the 40 MPH limit driving on Dixie Motor Speedway -I mean “Dixie Drive”- is just as pleasant as can be. I’ve traveled that street every day for over a decade and I’ve seen maybe 3 people get pulled over there. SGPD, I think everyone agrees that a little directed enforcement goes a long way.

  • Redbud September 13, 2018 at 5:45 am

    Wish I could have been in the gorge during that accident to roast marshmallows for my smores with the flames from the burning vehicle.

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