Boycie Elder, Dan Hicks and Marvin Holbrook, from Marv’s Tire were witnesses at the scene. They reported seeing smoke and flames coming from the back tires and the bales on the back end of the trailer as the unit pulled past the tire shop.
The driver of the semi-trailer unit, Skyler Handy, of Scobey, pulled over on the North Side of Highway #18 between the Coronach Co-op gas station and Marv’s Tire, to check his straps on his load, before continuing on to his destination of Flaxville, Montana. Handy reported when he looked into his rear-view mirror as he prepared to pull over, he noticed smoke and flames coming from the rear of his load.
“I immediately got out of the truck to look for a fire extinguisher.” said Handy.
With the fire well past the scope of a fire extinguisher, Handy quickly unhooked and pulled his tractor away from the burning load of bales. Handy then removed as number of his straps and stood back and watched the firefighters get to work on the fire.
Handy was hauling the load of bales from Tim Stewart’s farm near Rockglen to Flaxville, Montana, when the fire broke out. Handy reported that vehicles following him on the road near Fife Lake noticed trouble with his brakes and back tire(s).
From what was described to him, Handy believes that his brakes locked causing his tire(s) to stop turning and begin to drag against the pavement, until the rubber wore away leaving the rim dragging on the highway. The friction caused by the steel dragging on the highway would have caused heat and sparks that would have ignited the bales.
Coronach Volunteer firefighters attended the scene, working with their three trucks and the aid of the Town of Coronach’s bobcat, the Coronach Co-op’s fork lift and the RM’s front-end loader. Work continued for a number of hours as the burning bales were doused with water and pulled from the trailer unto the highway. The bales were then pushed from the highway into charred, smoldering heaps. The next morning, the smell of smoke still hung in the air over Coronach.
The Coronach detachment of the RCMP attended the scene and interviewed witnesses to the incident.