A semi-truck caught fire on U.S. 285 a few miles north of Poncha Springs about 12:30 a.m. March 21, resulting in no injuries but closing the highway for 3 hours.
David A. Harvey, 55, Vernal, Utah, was driving down “Devil’s Hill” near mile marker 131 on U.S. 285 when he noticed smoke coming from under his vehicle near the engine, Colorado State Patrol Sgt. Marshall Schwarz reported in a release.
Fire engulfed the cab of the vehicle from the driver’s side floorboard, and Harvey lost all power to his vehicle.
Schwarz said Harvey moved to the passenger’s side of the cab and steered the vehicle across the southbound lane of U.S. 285 and off the roadway. He continued off the shoulder a short distance when his air brakes “popped,”a and the vehicle came to a quick stop.
Harvey then jumped from the vehicle and ran to safety, Schwarz said.
Chaffee County Fire Protection District and Salida Fire Department firefighters arrived on scene and extinguished the fire, Schwarz said.
U.S. 285 was closed from 12:46 to 3:56 a.m. Traffic was rerouted through Salida on Colo. 291 and U.S. 50.
Schwarz said Harvey was driving from Sapulpa, Okla., to Grand Junction when the fire occurred. The 2000 Peterbilt 379 contained 150 gallons of diesel and was towing a flatbed trailer loaded with 45,000 pounds of pipe.
Colorado State Patrol, Chaffee County Sheriff’s Office, Chaffee County Fire Protection District, Salida Fire Department and Colorado Department of Transportation responded to the scene. Alpine Towing recovered the vehicle and trailer, Schwarz said.