Tractor trailer fire prevented by park rangers
DEATH VALLEY, Calif. – A tractor trailer’s brakes caught on fire—twice–while descending CA-190 eastbound from Towne Pass on August 10 in the evening. The truck was saved from a complete loss to fire by a report from an off-duty National Park Service (NPS) employee and the response by Death Valley National Park’s rangers with a fire engine.
The off-duty NPS employee was driving home when she noticed flames under the semi-truck in front of her. Since there is no cell service in the area, the off-duty employee used a park radio to report the fire. Park rangers responded in a fire engine from Furnace Creek, 35 miles away.
Meanwhile, the truck pulled off onto the road shoulder and the driver used a fire extinguisher to put out the fire. The NPS fire engine continued to drive towards the truck in case of reignition.
The truck driver continued down CA-190, with the off-duty employee following. The brakes caught fire again and the truck parked at Emigrant Junction. The driver’s fire extinguisher had been fully expended fighting the first fire. Fortunately, the NPS fire engine arrived in time to extinguish the fire before it caused significant damage. One tire was destroyed by the fire, but the truck limped away on 17 wheels.
This was the third vehicle fire that Death Valley National Park’s rangers have responded to this year. Some roads in the park have long, steep grades, up to 9%. Park rangers advise truck and trailer drivers to research their routes in advance, and consider less-steep alternatives. They should ensure their vehicles are in good condition and use engine braking or downshift to prevent overheating their brakes.
Death Valley National Park is the homeland of the Timbisha Shoshone and preserves natural resources, cultural resources, exceptional wilderness, scenery, and learning experiences within the nation’s largest conserved desert landscape and some of the most extreme climate and topographic conditions on the planet. Learn more at www.nps.gov/deva.