Chicken a la Gorge: Tons of frozen chicken goes up in flames when semi catches fire on I-15

ST. GEORGE — The semitractor-trailer fire Wednesday morning on southbound Interstate 15 in the Virgin River Gorge burned 50,000 pounds of Trader Joe’s frozen chicken and closed both southbound lanes as Beaver Dam/Littlefield Fire Department trucks made their way to the scene heading north in the southbound lanes.

Read more: UPDATED: Traffic alert: Semi fire closes southbound I-15 in Gorge; take Highway 91 instead

The fire was reported shortly before 6:30 a.m. MDT near mile marker 2.

The inside lane was reopened for travel approximately one hour later, Arizona Highway Patrol trooper John Rogers said.

The outside lane next to the right shoulder is expected to remain closed until late afternoon as wreckers responded to the scene and the Arizona Department of Transportation’s Enforcement personnel were dispatched to help with the cleanup and to check the semi.

ADOT workers were using skip loaders to offload the charred chicken to be hauled away. When the cleanup is complete the trailer will be towed from the roadway.

The semi driver told troopers that the truck was coming down the hill heading toward the Cedar Pocket area when he looked out his right window and noticed flames coming from the rear axle of the trailer.

“It appears the driver may have had a flat tire and was running on it for a while,” Rogers said.

If one of the tires toward the rear of the trailer was flat and became hot, it may not have been noticed right way because the other tires carry the load.

The driver pulled over and grabbed a fire extinguisher but was unable to put out the fire, so he disconnected the tractor from the trailer and pulled the forward so it was out of harm’s way.

“It’s a good thing he was able to disconnect the tractor portion from the trailer,” Rogers said, “because that trailer was destroyed.”

The driver was not cited and no injuries were reported.

The Arizona Highway Patrol, Beaver Dam/Littlefield Fire and Rescue and Arizona Department of Transportation responded and tended to the scene.

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

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