Dramatic fires claim two vehicles in two days

Mechanical, electrical issues common on hot summer days

By Steve Clark and
Robert Stevens
Ephraim City firefighters prepare to extinguish the flames sprouting from this pickup truck on Ephraim Main Street on Sunday.

In the heat of summer, vehicles are susceptible to mechanical or electrical failures that can culminate in fires.

Apparently, that’s what happened over the weekend when a brand new side-by-side and its trailer went up in flames in the Pigeon Hollow area, and a pickup truck burst into flames on Main Street in Ephraim. In both situations, nobody was hurt, but the vehicles were destroyed.

In the first incident, which happened Saturday, July 10, John Bailey of Mayfield was towing his newly-purchased 2021 Polaris RZR side-by-side home for the first time. He turned onto U.S. 89, glanced in the rear-view mirror and spotted flames.

Bailey pulled off the highway, but all he could do was to hurriedly unhitch the trailer from his truck so the flames wouldn’t spread to the truck.

The incident interrupted traffic flow on both U.S. 89 and S.R. 132.

This charred shell was the only thing left after a side-by-side ATV caught fire near Pigeon Hollow Junction last Saturday, July 10. John Bailey of Mayfield was towing the new 2021 Polaris home for the first time. He had not yet driven the vehicle.

“It’s good he stopped where he did,” said Utah Highway Patrol Officer, Rich Nielson.” The place the vehicle pulled off was a graveled shoulder area without much vegetation. But across the road, there is heavy sagebrush and expanses of explosive cheat grass leading up a hill. A stiff wind was blowing out of the west, but fortunately, no burning embers found their way to the top of the embankment or the hillside.

Bailey said he suspects the problem was caused by the OHV vehicle’s battery because he observed flames coming from the seat that houses the battery. The loss will covered by insurance.

“My biggest regret is that neither I nor my kids ever had a chance to ride it,” Bailey told the Messenger.

Then on Sunday, a lifted, red Chevrolet pickup truck became a fiery spectacle on Main Street in Ephraim. The driver was forced to flee the vehicle and leave it burning in the middle of the street.

The truck had reportedly been running erratically. After the driver experienced a power loss in the road, he stopped and opened the hood to inspect his engine. Some kind of electrical malfunction caused an ignition that set the entire bay on fire. The flames spread quickly, engulfing the cab as well as the engine area in a matter of minutes.

As bystanders gathered, police cleared the road for the Ephraim Fire Department. Three fire department vehicles, including Ephraim’s big ladder truck, along with four to five vehicles responded to the incident.