Vehicle fire on I-15 near St. George injures driver, causes rush-hour traffic jam

A Monday afternoon vehicle fire quickly consumed a Hyundai sedan near Green Springs Drive on I-15, St. George, Utah, Oct. 11, 2021 | Photo courtesy of Spencer Ricks, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — While driving northbound on Interstate 15 between St. George Boulevard and Green Springs Drive, a woman in a Hyundai sedan noticed smoke and flames coming from under the hood of her vehicle.

Motorists pass by firefighters as they douse flames and work to clean up leaking fuel on I-15, St. George, Utah, Oct. 11, 2021 | Photo courtesy of Spencer Ricks, St. George News

Battalion Chief Brad Esplin with the St. George Fire Department said she quickly responded to the fire by pulling over, with fire crews receiving the call to respond at around 4:50 p.m.

“By the time she stopped her car, there was fire on both sides of the vehicle,” Esplin said. “She got out, but suffered some minor burns.”

Esplin did not disclose the identity of the woman but said she was in her mid-40s and not a resident of the area. She declined transport to the hospital when paramedics with Gold Cross Ambulance arrived, he said. 

There were no other passengers in the vehicle and no other vehicles involved in the incident.

Ladder 21 was the first unit to respond, and firefighters were able to douse the flames that had overtaken the vehicle. Esplin said the fire spread quickly due to leaking fuel, but the source of the ignition was still under investigation.

“There was a significant fuel leak,” he said. “We had fuel coming out of the engine and going onto the freeway, so we had to control all the leaky fuel and keep the vapor suppressed. Two of the three northbound lanes were closed.”

The fire and subsequent clean-up caused delays and backed up traffic on northbound I-15 for several miles. The scene was cleared around 6:10 p.m., and traffic slowly returned to normal thereafter.

In addition to St. George Fire Department, first responders with the St. George Police Department, Washington City Fire Department, Utah Department of Transportation and Utah Highway Patrol were on the scene or coordinated the traffic control.

Esplin had some words of advice for motorists in case they ever found themselves in a similar situation seeing flames or smoke rising from a vehicle.

“(Do) exactly what she did – get off on the shoulder, put the car in park and exit the vehicle as quickly as you can,” Esplin said. “Get yourself some distance (from the car), and wait for us to show up and take care of the problem.”

This report is based on statements from police, emergency personnel or other responders and may not contain the full scope of findings.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

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