An eye witness to the tank trailer fire, KCSG’s Dawn Mclain was traveling behind the KB Oil truck when the 2nd tank trailer ignited in flames. She, along with other motorists, stopped to render assistance but couldn’t get close to the tractor or either tank trailer because of the intense heat from the fire. Passing motorists became concerned when they couldn't locate the driver who finally emerged shaken but uninjured.
Lt. Tom Merschel of the Nevada Highway Patrol told KCSG News that tire failure on the 2nd tank trailer appears to have caused the 1500-gallons of gasoline to ignite. The fire severely damaged the asphalt roadway on highway 93 where the incident occurred and consumed 80-100 acres of BLM rangeland brush, according to NHP Lt. Merschel. The 2nd tank trailer was destroyed, the right side of front tank trailer was burned on the right-side but not breached, he said.
Traffic was reduced to a single lane most of Friday afternoon and evening as clean-up delayed holiday travelers while gasoline from the unbreached tank trailer was off loaded on to another tanker truck brought from Wells. Firefighters from BLM, Nevada Division of Forestry and Elko County brought the tank trailer and brush fire under control. The accident is being investigated by the Nevada Highway Patrol.
Stacey Bettridge, of KB Oil, Cedar City, Utah, told KCSG News he had spoken with the driver who was shaken up but apparently unhurt. He and his brother Rand, partners in Ken Bettridge Distributing, chartered a Leavitt Group plane that flew to Wells Friday afternoon with another driver to bring Nelson back to Cedar City to be with his family after the harrowing experience. Nelson has been driving for KB Oil since May 2007 and will celebrate his 33rd birthday this month, according to Bettridge. The estimated loss of equipment and fuel is over $350,000, he said.
Ken Bettridge Distributing is a family owned business serving southwestern Utah and southeastern Nevada for over 32 years founded by Ken Bettridge in 1976 now owned and operated by his sons, Stacey and Rand Bettridge.