‘It’s a cluster out here’; crash on I-15 occurs within minutes of nearby car fire

WASHINGTON COUNTY — First responders were kept busy Saturday afternoon after a car fire on Interstate 15 near Leeds triggered a series of events that culminated in a rollover-crash just a couple hundred feet away.

A Toyota’s front end is charred after catching fire on Interstate 15 near mile marker 20, Washington County, Utah, April 27, 2019 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

The car fire was reported shortly after 4 p.m. on northbound I-15 near mile marker 20 involving a green Toyota Camry engulfed in flames on the outside shoulder lane. Within minutes of the fire, the crash was reported in the same area involving two vehicles, a red Chevrolet Cruze and a white Lexus four-door passenger car, Utah Highway Patrol Trooper Mike Murphy said.

“It’s a cluster out here,” Murphy said at the scene.

Firefighters tackled the blaze burning through the Toyota’s front end within minutes of arrival. Approximately 200 feet to the north, emergency medical personnel checked on the occupants involved in the crash, all reporting they were uninjured.

Just before the car caught fire, the driver heard a “heard a popping noise,” Murphy said, immediately followed by smoke that appeared to be coming from the front of the vehicle.

The driver pulled over, and as soon as she exited the car, flames could be seen coming from underneath the hood.

Emergency personnel tend to a rollover-crash on Interstate 15 near mile marker 20, Washington County, Utah, April 27, 2019 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

Meanwhile, the driver of an unidentified black car also heading north behind the Toyota stopped in the middle of the No. 1 lane when they saw the car on fire, followed by the Chevrolet, which slowed to a stop behind the black car.

At that point, Murphy said the driver of the Lexus came up over the hill and, “without seeing or noticing what was going on,” was unable to stop in time and struck the Chevrolet, causing it to spin before flipping over. The impact then propelled the Lexus forward where it crashed into the passenger’s side of the Chevrolet just as it landed upright facing south against an embankment.

“Luckily everyone was wearing their seat belts, so there were no injuries,” Murphy said.

The Chevrolet, the Lexus and the burned Toyota were all extensively damaged and had to be towed from the scene.

The impact on northbound traffic was extensive, with backup extending more than a mile south of the scene.

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

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Email: cblowers@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

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