ST. GEORGE — A Wyoming couple’s travel plans were derailed Friday afternoon when the vehicle they were towing behind their motor home caught fire just past the Toquerville Exit on southbound Interstate 15.
About a mile west of the Leeds Exit just after 12:30 p.m., Jeff Madison and his wife were headed south on I-15 in their 2020 Newmar Dutch Star 44-foot motor home, when they suddenly saw a billow of smoke trailing behind them that looked like it was coming from their 2020 Ford Raptor, he told St. George News.
After taking the exit, they continued under the overpass and pulled off on the side of Silver Reef Road. By that time, the Raptor was fully engulfed in thick smoke and flames. The fire traveled to the back of the motor home and to the adjacent hillside.
Utah Highway Patrol Sgt. Jake Hicks told St. George News he received a call about the fire at approximately 12:41 p.m., and since he was already near the location, he was the first to arrive on scene.
“The back of the RV was on fire, and the truck that it was pulling – the Ford Raptor – was completely on fire,” he said. “It was a little sketchy at first because people wanted to see and help, but the tires were exploding.”
There wasn’t a real threat of anything else exploding, he said. The Madisons and their small dog were out of the vehicle already and safe. Hicks said they did the right thing by vacating and leaving their belongings behind, even though that can be a difficult thing to do.
Madison had two fire extinguishers on hand and had used them on the truck to try to put out the flames, which at that point were too intense, but this did help to somewhat slow down the fire, Hicks said.
Because of the spread of the fire and its proximity to Leeds’ businesses, Hicks called for two fire engines, and Hurricane Fire Valley Fire District responded to the scene, as well as Washington County Sheriff’s deputies who helped with traffic control.
“It was a little scary because the fire started catching the hillside on fire and started heading toward the businesses. Thankfully the fire department got here pretty quickly,” he said.
Silver Reef Road was partially shut down between the on- and off-ramps as crews worked on cleanup efforts.
While they aren’t sure exactly what caused the fire, Hicks said based on experience, he guessed the transmission had become engaged, which happens, “especially in a 4-wheel drive vehicle that’s being towed.”
The estimated damage is probably “more than $200,000,” he added.
With both vehicles totaled, Madison said they were going to rent a car, file a claim and come back to the scene to see what belongings they could salvage.
“We have to go through and see what we can save,” he said, adding they may have to rent a U-Haul.
“We were headed to north Las Vegas to the RV dealership, and then from there, San Luis Obispo, California, for the holidays,” he said.
Click on photo to enlarge it, then use your left-right arrow keys to cycle through the gallery.
Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.