‘Nothing really valuable, just really flammable’; combustible cargo burns through semi’s trailer

Firefighters respond to a semitractor-trailer fire on Interstate 15 in Washington County, Utah, Dec. 10, 2018 | Photo courtesy of Utah Highway Patrol, St. George News

WASHINGTON COUNTY — Fire burned through a semitractor-trailer’s cargo of highly flammable material on Interstate 15 in Southern Utah Monday afternoon.

Firefighters respond to a semitractor-trailer fire on Interstate 15 in Washington County, Utah, Dec. 10, 2018 | Photo courtesy of Utah Highway Patrol, St. George News

Emergency personnel were dispatched to the fire near milepost 18 on southbound I-15 at approximately 4:20 p.m. involving a semi hauling recyclable goods.

At the time of the incident, the truck’s brakes ignited as it made its way up through a dip in the road.

“We see it quite a bit on that ‘Harrisburg dip’ when they come down both the Black Ridge and the dip,” Utah Highway Patrol trooper Grant Hintze said, explaining the circumstances of Monday’s truck fire and similar incidents he has seen. “When they apply their brakes, their brakes heat up and then they come up the hill and their brakes can’t cool down because they’re going so slow.”

“It’s either the brakes or the axle for the tires – the friction starts their and it just catches on fire,” he said

Firefighters from Hurricane Valley Fire District and Washington City Fire Department responded to the blaze. By then, it had spread from the brakes to the semi’s box trailer, which Hintze said was full of “junk paper and cardboard in big bundles.”

Cargo inside a semitractor-trailer that caught fire on Interstate 15 in Washington County, Utah, Dec. 10, 2018 | Photo courtesy of Utah Highway Patrol, St. George News

Hintze helped the driver remove the trailer from the semitractor as fire crews were en route.

“It engulfed the back end of the trailer and started the cargo on fire,” he said, adding that the responding firefighters managed to quickly extinguish the flames.

“Nothing really valuable, just really flammable,” Hintze said, describing the trailer’s contents.

As firefighters worked around the scene, troopers closed one lane of traffic, which Hintze said led to some backup and minor delays of up to 10 minutes.

No one was injured in the fire, and the incident did not result in any citations.

The fire burned through the trailer’s exterior and its tires popped during the blaze, requiring it to be towed from the scene. The semitractor was undamaged.

Email: jwitham@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

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

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