Passing semi driver warns man his car is on fire

WASHINGTON COUNTY —A man traveling through Southern Utah with his service dog is safe after a passing semitractor-trailer driver warned him to pull off the roadway mere moments before his car burst into flames.

Hurricane Valley Fire District, Utah Highway Patrol and UDOT’s Incident Management Team respond to a reported vehicle fire on I-15 northbound at Exit 33 Thursday, Washington County, Utah, Mar. 16, 2017 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

Shortly before 11:30 a.m. Thursday firefighters and emergency personnel responded to a reported vehicle fire on Interstate 15 northbound near the Snowfield Exit 33, Utah Highway Patrol Trooper Brian Lacy said.

Once on scene officers found a 2011 Chevrolet HHR passenger car fully engulfed in flames with the driver and his dog outside of the car and waiting nearby.

Firefighters arrived minutes later and immediately began fighting the blaze that took more than 20 minutes to extinguish, according to a witness at the scene.

Lacy said the Chevrolet was in the No. 1 lane when the driver observed a semi traveling to his right in the No. 2 lane. The semi driver was motioning to the man to pull his car over while alerting him that something was wrong.

Just then the Chevrolet driver noticed smoke coming from the front of his vehicle and quickly pulled over to the left shoulder of the Interstate to check the vehicle and call for help, the trooper said.

By the time troopers arrived, the car was engulfed in flames. Moments later firefighters arrived to try and control the blaze.

The man told officers he installed a new luggage rack in the rear of the vehicle and speculated that something caught fire after being exposed to the heat of the exhaust pipe, Lacy said.

However, firefighters on scene told the trooper that the fire appeared to have started in the front of the car, possibly under the hood. The driver and his dog, a service animal that was traveling with him, were able to get out of the vehicle with no serious injuries reported, Lacy said.

“The man attended a funeral in California and was returning home to Wisconsin when this happened,” Lacy said.

EMS comfort the driver and his service animal after a fire destroys his vehicle while returning home to Wisconsin Thursday, Washington County, Utah, Mar. 16, 2017 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

The car was destroyed by the fire and towed from the scene.

“Normally the man would ride along with the tow truck driver,” Lacy said, “but I’ll be driving him from the scene since the man told us that his dog isn’t very friendly, and now the animal is frightened so it’s best that I drive them just to make sure nothing else happens.”

No citations were issued to the driver after the incident. The cause of the fire is under investigation, the trooper said.

The Utah Highway Patrol, Hurricane Valley Fire District and the Utah Department of Transportation’s Incident Management Team responded and tended to the scene.

This report is based on preliminary information provided by law enforcement or other emergency responders and may not contain the full scope of findings.

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Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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1 Comment

  • comments March 16, 2017 at 10:25 pm

    Chevrolet HHR: had to look that one up. Looks like Chev’s version of a PT cruiser. So ugly. LOL

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