For the second time this month, a motor home burst into flames while traveling north on the Beeline Highway, sending flames into the forest.
Tuesday’s blaze spread much faster than an RV fire on May 3. In that incident, firefighters contained the fire to under an acre, but on Tuesday, flames quickly ripped across 25 acres thanks to windy, dry conditions.
Ironically, in both cases, the RVs were towing Jeep vehicles. On May 3 though there was time to detach the Jeep Liberty and move it away, but on Tuesday the Jeep Wrangler was burned to the frame along with the large motor home towing it.
The Department of Public Safety received calls of an RV fire Tuesday about 10:30 a.m. as the motor home traveled toward Payson past the Four Peaks turnoff.
The driver of the RV reportedly did not realize a fire had started. At some point, he spotted smoke in his rearview mirror and stopped, said DPS officer Erich Buckwalter.
It is unclear where the fire started,
whether in the RV or Jeep, but it quickly turned both vehicles into flaming fireballs.
One of the first on scene was DPS officer Seth Meeske, who was driving to the Valley from Payson when he spotted the fire on the other side of the roadway.
Meeske has been on limited duty healing from injuries suffered when he was shot several times during a traffic stop in September.
“He was probably working a little more than light desk duty (Tuesday),” said Sgt. Erik Axlund.
Meeske reportedly helped direct traffic until fire crews arrived.
Local resident Greg McKelvey was driving up from Fountain Hills when he passed the motor home and managed to snap a picture.
McKelvey said he could feel the heat from the blaze as he passed and was concerned for the occupants, but saw what appeared to be the driver walking down the Beeline uninjured.
“He looked a little down on his luck though,” McKelvey said.
Firefighters eventually contained the blaze to 25 acres and dubbed it the Mesquite Fire because the highway crosses over the Mesquite Wash nearby.
A firefighting DC10 out of Mesa dropped fire retardant, Buckwalter said.
No one was injured.
Both northbound lanes were closed from 10:50 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. The left lane was reopened with the right lane closed until 8 p.m.