Moving van fire shows importance of fire agreements
Fire engulfed the trailer of a moving van on U.S. 95 south of Grangeville two weeks ago, consuming the trailer contents and igniting a 10-acre fire along the highway shoulder.
Idaho’s primary north-south highway was blocked for approximately three hours while responders extinguished the fire and cleared the debris during the busy weekend travel.
The incident emphasizes the importance of statewide agreements that ITD forged with local fire districts and departments, allowing suppression efforts outside of jurisdictional boundaries.
Largely through the efforts of Louie Albright, ITD’s emergency program coordinator, and with transportation board approval, ITD has worked with many firefighting agencies throughout the state for quick responses, protection of life and property, restoration of traffic and limiting adverse effects on the economy.
Through the agreements and an ITD funding pool, agencies can be reimbursed for their firefighting costs. ITD will pay suppression costs from a special board-approved fund and then seek recovery from the insurance carrier of the vehicle involved. In this instance, the responding agency planned to bill the insurance company directly, and ask for ITD assistance if necessary, Albright said.
“This is a great example of agencies working together to mitigate a situation that could have been a major problem to its customers and the state,” Albright observed.
If the fire department had not signed the contract, according to chief Bob Johnson, the trailer would have burned for many more hours because his agency would have been unable to respond. It also could have resulted in a major wildland fire.