Semi’s brakes catch fire; driver able to continue route

St. George Fire crews attend to semitruck fire, St. George Utah, Aug. 26, 2014 | Photo by Holly Coombs, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — A West Coast Transportation semitruck’s brakes caught fire while heading southbound on North Bluff Street at approximately 1:30 p.m. Tuesday afternoon.

The truck driver, who was traveling from Enterprise, noticed the rear section of his truck was on fire and pulled over at 1285 N. Bluff St. He was able to extinguish the flames prior to St. George Fire and Police Department responders arriving on scene to cool the back tires and rear area with water hoses, St. George Fire Chief Robert Stoker said.

St. George fire crews spray back tires of a semi after its brakes catch fire, St. George, Utah, Aug. 26, 2014 | Photo by Holly Coombs, St. George News
St. George Fire crews spray back tires of a semi after its brakes catch fire, St. George, Utah, Aug. 26, 2014 | Photo by Holly Coombs, St. George News


While the driver was able to extinguish the flames himself, Stoker said the brakes were still at a high 400 degrees when crews arrived. A typical semitruck carrying hay from Enterprise uses the truck brakes while descending the hills toward St. George rather than the engine brakes, Stoker said, which can cause smoking or flaming brakes.

“We’ve had a few trucks that have had brakes catch fire but a lot just have been smoking from riding the brakes down those hills,” he said.

The fire crew sprayed the back tires and rear of the truck for about 20 minutes before the truck driver was able to go on his way safely. In some cases like this, brake replacements or fixes are necessary for truck drivers coming through the city, Stoker said.

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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  • I_Drive August 26, 2014 at 6:04 pm

    We have to over use the brakes when taking that route and loaded with 44k+ lbs of hay since engine brakes are not allowed. If the gearing in the truck can’t provide enough assistance it is really difficult to keep the speed down on Bluff; which is a very long downhill that can build on us quickly. Add to that, for myself anyway, I always try to be even slower on Bluff since it so extremely busy with all of the business accesses and cross streets. While usually making it down with out a problem, there have been a couple of times I’ve smoked them, but I always pull over in a safe spot and let them cool down.

    • spectator in the cheap seats August 26, 2014 at 6:56 pm

      why can not trucks use engine brakes on hwy 18 ? I have never seen any signs regulating engine brakes .

  • I_Drive August 26, 2014 at 6:11 pm

    “slower on Bluff since it *is so “. Sorry for my editing over sight.

  • My Evil Twin August 27, 2014 at 1:29 pm

    I have two observations here. First is, if engine brake use actually is prohibited now coming down Hwy 18, it is stupid, dangerous and criminal on the part of the idiots who decided to make it so. Sort of hope whoever was bellyaching about the “noise” from Jake Brakes gets their sorry but run over by a runaway truck.
    Second observation, is that if a driver actually knows what he is doing, he should be able to handle that just fine. I’ve run SR 14 up and down Cedar Mountain, and up and down SR 143 between Brian Head and Parowin many times, in a truck that did not even have engine brakes. Sure, it is slow, but it can be done safely.
    Of course, then you have people bellyaching about trucks being to slow and blocking traffic. There is just no winning for the trucker. . .

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