SOUTHERN UTAH – A semitruck lit up the night when it caught fire and became fully-engulfed in flames Wednesday evening while traveling northbound on Interstate 15 near mile marker 47, just north of New Harmony Exit 42.
Shortly before 7:30 p.m., a Swift semitruck carrying office supplies burst into flames and the fire quickly spread due to the highly-flammable contents, Cedar City Fire Department Assistant Chief Lanor Warby said.
The driver of the semitruck, J. Cranford, 37, was traveling from Las Vegas to Green River, where he would stop for the night before continuing to Colorado, Utah Highway Patrol Trooper Adam Gibbs said.
“We think what happened is that he had a flat tire,” Gibbs said. “He pulled over because he had a blow out and he thinks that’s what caused his truck to get pretty hot, so he pulled over and it started up in flames.”
When Cranford saw the fire, he attempted to extinguish it, but failed. As the fire grew, the rear left tires both blew out – one of which hit a passing car, but caused no injury or damage, Gibbs said.
Cedar City Fire Department responded to the scene and were able to put the flames out by 7:55 p.m. but how the fire started, is still under investigation.
Cedar City firefighters said from looking at the trailer, the point of origin appeared to be within a wheel axel, which then caused the tires to blow. After talking to Cranford, Gibbs said a hot tire or wheel bearing were possible factors in causing the fire.
Cedar City Fire Department, Utah Highway Patrol, Iron County Sheriff’s Office and Utah Department of Transportation responded to the scene. Iron County Sheriff’s Office provided initial traffic control before UDOT came to the scene just after 9 p.m. to set road flares and a right lane closure until the trailer could be towed.
UDOT also brought in a backhoe to knock holes in the left side of the trailer, providing Cedar City firefighters with the ability to spray water back into the trailer as prevention of any flare ups that might cause a bigger fire.
Cranford was able to detach the trailer from the truck, which remained unharmed. The estimated damage cost of the trailer and its contents were unknown, although Cranford said he knew the cost would be high because the contents were enough for three location stops.
This report is based on preliminary information provided by UHP and may not contain the full scope of findings.
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