Crash involving car fire and obliterated trailer triggers closure of I-15

WASHINGTON COUNTY — A crash evolved into a car fire and sent a trailer splintering across the roadway Sunday morning, resulting in a road closure on Interstate 15 in Washington County that triggered miles of traffic backup.

A Subaru is destroyed by a fire after a crash with a pickup truck pulling a trailer on Interstate 15 Sunday, Washington County, Utah, Sept. 2, 2018 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

Shortly after 10:30 a.m. officers and emergency personnel were dispatched to a crash and car fire involving a red Ford pickup truck pulling a trailer and a dark-colored Subaru Forester XT, with callers reporting possible injuries to the vehicles’ occupants.

Responders arrived to find the Subaru fully engulfed in flames, which fire crews were able to completely extinguish within minutes of their arrival. The 12-foot trailer attached to the pickup was fractured into hundreds of pieces, leaving a trail of debris strewn across both lanes of travel.

The scattered debris caused a closure of the southbound side of I-15 just south of the Exit 30 on-ramp, Utah Highway Patrol Trooper Grant Hintze said.

Emergency medical responders checked all occupants involved in the crash for injuries, and all declined transport to the hospital, while firefighters, officers and personnel from the Utah Department of Transportation began clearing debris, which was stacked and secured onto a tow truck.

View facing north of backup of vehicles on southbound Interstate 15 near Exit 30 extending for miles (as seen in upper right corner of photo), Washington County, Utah, Sept. 2, 2018 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

Troopers learned that the Subaru was reported as a possible reckless driver when an off-duty officer in Iron County observed the vehicle weaving across both lanes of travel and driving erratically near mile marker 44 on southbound I-15, Hintze said, and troopers in Iron County were dispatched to the area to search for the vehicle.

The Subaru continued south, and shortly after it crossed into Washington County, the crash was reported, Hintze said.

“It was only about 10 minutes after the first call reporting the reckless driver that the crash came in,” he said.

The Subaru came up behind the Ford and struck the back of the trailer, which broke away from the pickup and disintegrated, throwing a load of personal items across the roadway. The Subaru continued south and came to rest on the outside shoulder where it burst into flames.

Immediately after the crash, motorists traveling behind the two vehicles stopped as debris was thrown in every direction. Hintze said bystanders ran to the Subaru and pulled the woman from the burning car.

According to multiple witness statements provided to police at the scene, the Subaru driver was reportedly weaving across the roadway seconds before the crash, similar to what was reported in Iron County.

The tailgate of a Ford pickup truck is bent outwards after a crash involving a Subaru on Interstate 15 Sunday, Washington County, Utah, Sept. 2, 2018 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

The Subaru driver appeared to be under the influence of “some type of drug” while speaking to police, Hintze said, and combined with statements made at the scene, the reports from Iron County and the crash, the woman was transported to the UHP facility in Washington County for further testing.

The Subaru, which was completely destroyed by the fire, was also loaded onto a wrecker and towed from the scene. The Ford remained operational and was later driven away by the owner. The couple in the pickup truck were returning to their home in Kingman, Arizona, after visiting Montana when the crash occurred.

The southbound side of I-15 was closed for approximately forty minutes while responders cleared debris and towed away the damaged vehicles. Troopers then reopened the outside lane to allow traffic to move past the wreck. About 30 minutes later, both lanes were reopened, easing the congestion.

UHP troopers were assisted by responders from the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, Harmony Valley Fire District, Hurricane Valley Fire District and the Utah Department of Transportation’s Incident Management Team.

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

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Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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1 Comment

  • Mike P September 3, 2018 at 10:19 am

    This would be a great commercial for Subaru. ” Good little cars, they just burst into flames when you hit something”. Can you say Pinto?

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