Crews battle fire near trailer full of potentially toxic, explosive compound

Semitractor and one trailer are destroyed by fire on Interstate 15 near mile marker 137, Millard County, Utah, Jan. 9, 2019 | Photo courtesy of the Utah Highway Patrol, St. George News

ST. GEORGE A semitractor pulling double trailers caught fire on Interstate 15 in Millard County Wednesday morning, and an aggressive attack by fire crews prevented the flames from burning through the second tanker full of bisulfite, a compound that becomes dangerously unstable when heated.

The incident was reported at 7:45 a.m. on I-15 southbound near mile marker 137 where firefighters found the truck fully engulfed in flames that were spreading quickly across the front trailer.

The driver escaped without injury, Utah Highway Patrol Sgt. Nick Street said.

Fire crews aggressively attacked the blaze and had it extinguished before it reached the second trailer containing the bisulfite, which averted a potential disaster, Street said.

“Those guys had to work really fast to get that fire out before it reached the placarded trailer.”

Placards are labels posted on the tanker that identifies the hazardous material or chemical it is hauling, as is required by the Department of Transportation.

Semitractor catches fire that spread to its first trailer, but was extinguished before it reaches the second trailer containing bisulfite, Millard County, Utah, Jan. 9, 2019 | Photo courtesy of the Utah Highway Patrol, St. George News

Bisulfate is a noncombustible substance unless heated, in which case it can emit toxic fumes that can evolve into hydrogen gas if it comes into contact with metals. It can explode in the container if it gets hot enough.

All southbound traffic lanes were closed for more than an hour, while northbound traffic was also impacted as responders cleared the wreckage.

Investigators believe the fire started in the semitractor, Street said, but the cause is still under investigation.

This report is based on statements from police or other responders and may not contain the full scope of findings.


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1 Comment

  • mesaman January 9, 2019 at 7:39 pm

    Outstanding work by these unnamed firefighters from the Millard (Beaver County I apologize if you were also involved) County. They averted a possible tragedy with their skill and training. Thank you for your service, firefighters.

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