Truck fire fills the sky with smoke Saturday

By David Peck

A spectacular truck fire at the foot of the Big Horn Mountains Saturday morning that sent thick, black smoke high into the sky and featured leaping flames fortunately resulted in no injuries, though the fire did hold up traffic on U.S. 14A for some time.

According to Wyoming Highway Patrol trooper Randy Davis, a semi tractor-trailer driven by Yorry Flerimond of Delaware was descending U.S. 14A when the brakes on the trailer overheated, causing the fire.

“He doesn’t think his brakes were overheating, but I feel like they were,” Davis said. “He heard a ‘pop, pop.’ It probably got so hot that it overinflated the tires and caused the fire. The tires got hot and popped. I’m just surmising (on the tires), but I do believe the fire was caused by overheated brakes.”

The truck was hauling a load consisting of rolls of plastic en route to CETCO, and when the fire began, the burning plastic sent the black plume of smoke skyward. The call initially came in as a cattle trailer on fire, but fortunately that was not the case, Davis said.

Lovell Volunteer Fire Dept. Assistant Chief Bob Mangus said the call came in at 11:11 a.m.,
and the first unit arrived at
11:23. Twelve firemen were on scene. Firemen cleared the scene at 12:33.

Davis said the driver did manage to detach the semi from the trailer.

“He stopped and lowered his trailer stand, his jack, and pulled the truck forward 50 or 60 yards,” Davis said. “The fire started in the way back of the trailer.”

Mangus agreed, noting, “It came out of the back axle. You could see it the way it was burning.”

The trooper said JR’s Towing of Greybull helped push the damaged trailer to the side so that traffic could resume, then returned Sunday to finish cleaning up. Davis did say that the highway surface was damaged by the extreme heat and will have to be repaired.

“About 50 or 60 feet of pavement will have to be replaced,” he said.

Davis said U.S. 14A was closed at Burgess Junction and below the fire site for about an hour. No citations were issued in the incident.

Mangus added that, with resources devoted to the truck fire, the Powell Fire Department sent a truck to Lovell to stand by in case another call came in. The Deaver-Frannie Fire Dept. also sent a tanker to the mountain in case it was needed.