Just before 8 p.m. on July 19 a truck driver hauling a frozen food load from Salt Lake City to Las Vegas had to pull over at the Exit 8 Beaver Dam Southbound onramp when he noticed smoke filling his cab.
“I suddenly noticed smoke filling the cab and couldn’t tell where it was coming from,” the driver, who wished to remain nameless, said. “I opened the hood and didn’t really see anything. When I went to open the safety compartment on the side, it was already too late, flames came shooting out of there,” he said.
Within minutes, he said the entire cab was fully engulfed in flames and he was unable to detach the cab from the fully stocked semi-trailer, resulting in a total loss.
The driver said that he was sure it had to be an electrical fire in the sleeper of the cab, and there had been no sign of electrical problems before. His normal route usually takes him to Missouri or Arkansas, as it has over the past four and a half years, but this load needed to be taken to Las Vegas. “It’s a rare trip for me, although I have done it before,” he said.
Beaver Dam Fire and Mesquite Fire Departments responded to the scene within minutes, putting the fire out after a front-loader tipped over the trailer so firefighters could extinguish flames within the trailer.
The Exit 8 Southbound onramp, which is used to head towards Mesquite, was closed most of the night and part of the next morning, as investigators processed the scene and then crews with the Arizona Department of Transportation helped clean it up. Because there was so much debris from the fire, it took crews longer to load it and haul it to Mesquite where they emptied their dumpsters and returned to fill them back up again.
Both ADOT and the Arizona Highway Patrol assisted with traffic control during and after the incident until the onramp reopened for good around noon on July 20.