While crews were responding to a semitrailer fire on southbound Highway 395, Tuesday night, April 4, a drunk driver caused damage to a Franklin County Fire truck.
While first responders were working on the fire, a drunk driver struck the Franklin County Fire District 1 truck damaging the front end. The truck was towed back to Connell, where it now sits in the fire yard awaiting repairs before it is able to make any more calls.
Fire District 1 Chief Eric Mauseth stated that the call was initially received around 6:30 p.m. for a semi-trailer truck carrying 48 bales of cardboard whose load had caught fire. It was an unusual call, as there was no real reason for the load to be on fire. The cause is still unknown. The truck fire was described as "the biggest bonfire I've ever seen. "
Several fire districts responded to the burning truck that could have easily ignited dry grasses resulting in a wildfire. Franklin County Fire District 1, Connell, had four trucks, District 4, Basin City, had two trucks, and Fire District 3, Pasco, also brought a truck. Along with all the fire trucks, the Department of Transportation blocked one lane of Highway 395 leading to the scene and the Franklin County Sheriff was also assisting.
Despite the signage, blockades and all the flashing lights in the area, cars were still speeding past the emergency zone. Mauseth took the opportunity to remind people that you endanger the lives of emergency responders when you don't slow down when passing by a fire, road work or accident.
Around 12:30 a.m., while crews were still working at the scene, a drunk driver ran through all the roadblocks and crashed head-on into a Franklin County Fire District 1 truck. Luckily, the two firefighters, who had just loaded the truck, saw the driver coming and quickly moved out of the way. The fire truck, which was filled with water, was pushed 10 feet.
The State Patrol, plus Franklin County Sheriff, and Franklin County Hospital District 1 now, joined the scene.
This was the driver's third D.U.I.. She also faces two counts of reckless endangerment of potential harm to firefighters and others at the scene.
Mauseth commended the Franklin County Sheriff for assisting at the scene and also for sighting at least five or six drivers for speeding through the area of the accident.
As fire season approaches and road crews prepare for work in our area it is an important reminder to slow down when driving past cars on the side of the roadway, along with passing areas where first responders and road crews are working. And, especially, don't drink and drive.