Driver Uninjured After Truck Catches Fire

By: KKTV Email
By: KKTV Email

A southern Colorado man is thankful he was not injured after his truck caught on fire while driving down I-25.

11 News was there as his son ran to him and hugged him, grateful that he made it out of the pickup in time.

The driver of the vehicle, 37-year-old Mark Vigil, tells KKTV 11 News he was hauling a load of wood clippings and tree branches to the dump in the rear of his Chevy Avalanche when he smelled smoke.

He says he didn't realize what was happening until it filled up his cab while driving south on I-25.

Just before the 8th Street bridge Vigil says he carefully pulled over and tried to put the flames out; but they spread too quickly. He says his car was so hot, he almost couldn't get his cellphone out to call for help.

The father made it out safely and watched as his truck went up in flames.

"The battery exploded, all the tires were popping, the gas tank exploded and caught all the grass on fire. I'm just glad nobody was with me," said Vigil.

His son, Mark Vigil Jr. was driving by at the time and tells 11 News he saw someone that looked like his dad. Once he saw the truck, he knew it was him. He found a safe place to pull over and quickly ran to his father's side.

A line of spectators formed on the 8th Street bridge, concerned after seeing the plume of smoke and hearing explosions.

Fire officials tell 11 News that nothing actually exploded, but that tires popping will make the startling sound.

They say the gas tank did rupture and leaked fuel, which caught on fire.

Officials say the fire spread quickly partially because of the layout of the Avalanche. The driver took the back separator out, which allowed the bed of the truck to stretch all the way inside to the back seat. Debris now stretched into the back seat, and once it caught on fire, it spread inside the vehicle.

Because the truck is partially made of magnesium, which burns extremely hot, it took crews longer to fight the flames. Magnesium does not react to water, so they had to use foam to fight it.

A plume of smoke was visible from downtown Pueblo. One lane of southbound I-25 was closed for some time, then traffic was forced to one lane. It was reopened shortly after 4 p.m.

A Pueblo County Sheriff's Deputy who was driving home saw the vehicle on fire and immediately stopped to help.


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