Traffic was closed on Highway 260 for about an hour Tuesday morning as crews cleared the scene of a one-vehicle fatality accident near Ponderosa Campground.
The accident, at milepost 265.8, took the life of a man driving a Ford pickup truck. At press time, officers from the Arizona Department of Public Safety could not release the identity of the man because his family had not yet been notified, but they did say he was not a local resident.
DPS Officer Tony McDaniel said that at 6:10 a.m. today (Tuesday), the vehicle was traveling west, and for unknown reasons, went from the west to eastbound lanes, driving off the shoulder of the road.
"The truck struck several pine trees on the left side, and at that point, it appears that it caught on fire," McDaniel said. The driver was thrown from the vehicle, but nearby campers who heard the crash found him and pulled him farther away from the burning vehicle.
By the time emergency crews arrived, the man had died.
"At that point, all we had to do was fire suppression," Diamond-Star Fire Captain John Wisner said. "The accident sparked a small fire within the vehicle and about a 50-foot area of the forest. Diamond-Star and Christopher-Kohl's had that cleared within four or five minutes of arrival."
Contrary to early televised news reports, the pickup was not carrying propane tanks or large amounts of ammunition. The only explosion, officials said, was the popping sound heard by the exploding tires.
"We're not yet sure of the cause of the accident, but the indication is a fatigued driver," McDaniel said. "It doesn't appear that there was any evasive action prior to leaving the roadway, which would indicate maybe a sleeper, or something of that nature."
Highway 260 was reopened for traffic shortly after 7 a.m.