‘Disaster’ averted after firefighters extinguish semi loaded with batteries

ST. GEORGE — A semitractor-trailer fire on the Arizona stretch of Interstate 15 was short-lived thanks to the efforts of area firefighters Thursday afternoon.

Firefighters respond to a semitractor-trailer fire in the Virgin River Gorge, Ariz., Oct. 10, 2019 | Photo courtesy of the Beaver Dam-Littlefield Fire District, St. George News

Around 3:50 p.m. MST, the driver of a FedEx semi hauling three trailers noticed smoke coming off the third trailer and pulled over in the area of milepost 25 on southbound I-15 in the Virgin River Gorge, Beaver Dam-Littlefield Fire Chief Jeff Hunt said.

A fire ignited in the rear axle of the third trailer and was either triggered by a tire blowing out or a brake malfunction, Hunt said. The exact cause is currently unknown.

The driver was able to disconnect the trailer from the rest of the rig while firefighters responded to the scene.

Personnel from the St. George Fire Department made it to the scene first and knocked down the bulk of the fire by the time Beaver Dam-Littlefield Fire arrived.

The fire was quickly doused, and minimal damage was done to the trailer. However, the situation could have gone from a fire on the edge of the trailer to a fully engulfed semi if the trailer cargo – an entire load of lithium-ion batteries – had caught fire, Hunt said.

“What could have been a disaster was averted thanks to St. George firefighters being there,” he said.

Fire crews were on scene for under an hour, and only one lane of traffic had to be shut down behind the operation.

Members of the Arizona Department of Public Safety and Mohave County Sheriff’s Office also responded to the incident.

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

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