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Mechanical failure torches truck, spreads to trailer, second vehicle


A Salmon River Rural Fire Department firefighter applies foam to cool down remaining hot spots on a vehicle burnt along the White Bird grade last Thursday, June 25.

Photo by David Rauzi
A Salmon River Rural Fire Department firefighter applies foam to cool down remaining hot spots on a vehicle burnt along the White Bird grade last Thursday, June 25.



WHITE BIRD — A Riggins-area couple escaped without injury last week from a fire that consumed their pickup, along with a trailer loaded with a second truck they were hauling.

Mechanical failure was the cause of the fire, reported last Thursday, June 25, three miles north of White Bird. According to Det. Brian Hewson, Idaho County Sheriff’s Office, Carl Smid of Fiddle Creek was driving a 2005 Ford F350 northbound, hauling a 20-foot featherweight trailer carrying a 1977 Chevrolet dump bed, which was to be repaired in Grangeville. As Smid was coming up the grade, the Ford lost all electronics and power.

“Fortunately, there was a wide spot to coast into,” Hewson said, where Smid directed the vehicle off to the right-side pullout. As he got out, he noticed antifreeze dripping onto the ground, followed by melting rubber that shortly after caught fire as it ran along the ground. Black smoke started rolling out from underneath the hood, after which flames engulfed the Ford and then spread along the trailer to the Chevrolet.

Smid and his wife, Linda, were out of the vehicle and were not injured.

A passerby noticed the incident and drove north over the grade to be able to call 9-1-1 assistance. Response was with Salmon River Rural Fire Department engines and crew, assisted by firefighters and vehicles from both the Forest Service and Idaho Department of Lands, as well as a water tank truck provided by Heckman Ranch. Both vehicles and the trailer were destroyed in the fire.

“Response by all the agencies this year has been wonderful,” Hewson noted, with local, state and federal firefighting crews dispatching with personnel and resources to hit fires quickly to keep them from growing into large incidents.

Dale’s Rescue Towing provided wrecker services. Hewson was assisted on-scene by Deputy Scott Paulsen and Undersheriff Jim Gorges.



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