IRON COUNTY, Utah – Lately, when discussing preventing wildfires, the topic of preparedness takes the main stage. We say being prepared is critical when going camping or maintaining your vehicle to avoid any issues that could arise.
What happens when you do everything right but still find yourself in a situation where a fire occurs?
On June 4, 2022, a fire occurred along I-15 at mile marker 84 near Paragonah. The result of the fire was determined to be a failed trailer wheel bearing.
Roadside starts are a common way wildfires can start. In this case, the difference was the preparation that went into planning the trip before leaving.
Richard Wiley was planning a trip to Lake Powell(?) and used his Fire Sense to ensure that he would be ready for anything, regardless of the situation. Before leaving on his trip, Wiley took the time to ensure that his trailer and truck were in proper working order, all the maintenance was up to date, and that he had a working fire extinguisher not only in his boat but in his truck.
Sometimes accidents happen regardless of our level of preparedness, and in the case of Wiley, this is what happened on his return home. The wheel bearing on the passenger side of the boat trailer failed while traveling north on I-15. This mechanical failure resulted in the entire wheel assembly falling off and sparking on the road, causing a fire in the dry grass on the side of the road.
Noticing what had occurred to the trailer, Wiley quickly responded and safely moved his trailer from the traveling lane to the emergency lane. In doing so, he saw the sparks from the trailer ignited a fire along the side of the road, approximately 100 yards behind him.
Wiley quickly sprung into action, grabbed the fire extinguisher out of his truck, attempted to stifle the flames, and called 911 to report the fire.
When fire resources arrived, they found that Wiley had contained the fire at 0.01 acres and that the fire was now only smoldering.
Preparation and quick thinking by Wiley helped keep what could have been a devastating wildfire to a minimum. This example is an excellent reminder of why we should always use our Fire Sense because sometimes accidents happen. Being prepared and quickly alerting authorities can help fire officials keep small fires from growing.