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Wheel comes off boat trailer on Interstate 15 sparking wildfire that burned dangerously close to state veterans home, other buildings

July 15, 2018
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A firefighting vehicle moves through the landscape scorched by a Saturday wildfire off Interstate 15 in Pocatello.

POCATELLO — A tire coming off a boat trailer on Interstate 15 caused a Saturday wildfire that came dangerously close to several buildings on the city’s east side including the Idaho State Veterans Home.

State police said the boat trailer was being towed on Interstate 15 northbound around 11:30 a.m. when one of its wheels came off. The incident somehow sparked a blaze along the interstate’s east shoulder between ON Semiconductor and Idaho State University’s former Research and Innovation in Science and Engineering Complex.

The wildfire quickly spread to the east, scorching 10 to 15 acres of dry grass and brush. The flames came within 100 yards of multiple buildings along Alvin Ricken Drive, including ON Semiconductor, the former RISE Complex and the veterans home but there were no evacuations.

Firefighters from the Pocatello and Chubbuck fire departments and Bureau of Land Management quickly responded and by 12:30 p.m. Saturday they had stopped the flames from spreading and were extinguishing the remaining hot spots.

The fire did not cause any injuries.

At its height the flames from the fire were 15 to 20 feet high and smoke from the blaze could be seen for miles.

The wildfire did not result in any lane closures on Interstate 15 because the flames were burning away from the freeway.

State police said they’re not sure what caused the wheel of the boat trailer to come off but they said the driver of the vehicle towing the trailer will likely not be cited since it was an accident.

The driver pulled over on the interstate after the wheel came off the boat trailer and dialed 911 to report the wildfire, state police said.

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