A Fiery Ordeal on Easter Weekend
David Kuusela’s truck engulfed in flames in Michigan.
In the midst of an Easter weekend journey in 2019 across Michigan, Owner/Operator David Kuusela found himself hauling a hefty load of 40,000 lbs. of steel pipes destined for Tulsa, OK in his 2014 Freightliner Cascadia. He navigated his way on 9 Mile Road east of U.S. 23, which had recently opened but were marred by construction dust. Unfavorable weather conditions, including strong winds, only worsened the dusty environment.
As David cruised along at a cautious 20 to 25 mph, a sudden loud pop disrupted the calm. Uncertain of the source, he glanced at his gauges and noticed a gradual decline in air pressure. Reacting swiftly, he applied the brakes, bringing his rig to a stop. Glancing down, he spotted a faint glimmer of light emanating from beneath the gear boot, accompanied by wisps of smoke.
Firefighter putting out the remnants of the fire.
Escaping the Inferno
Without hesitation, David exited the cab of his truck, only to be greeted by flames engulfing the driver’s side of the engine block. The passenger side flickered with an eerie glow, indicating a menacing fire that was spreading fast. David acted quickly, retrieving his trusty fire extinguisher from the cab and successfully extinguishing the initial flames. Realizing that he needed a tow, he attempted to re-enter the cab to retrieve his cell phone but was met with a shocking sight—the gear boot was now ablaze as well. In a desperate bid to contain the fire, David grabbed his fire extinguisher, only to discover that it had run empty.
With time slipping away and the fire advancing, David made a swift decision to salvage whatever personal belongings he could from the sleeper compartment. However, the fire’s hunger and thickening smoke thwarted his efforts, preventing him from taking even a single step beyond the driver’s seat. Left with a mere 26 cents in his pocket, his cell phone, headset, and a spare truck key, David made a frantic exit from the power unit and dialed 911.
Aftermath: A Charred Truck and Melted Gear
The truck fire completely destroyed the power unit and damaged the trailer.
As the truck continued to burn, local law enforcement arrived, providing assistance and maintaining traffic control until the arrival of the fire department. David’s Freightliner suffered complete destruction, with the chains and binders melting under the intense heat. The trailer also sustained approximately $5,000 in damage, with the tarps covering the steel pipes melting.
Aftermath of the truck fire after the fire department’s arrival
FoxFire Lights: A Remarkable Discovery
Following the fire department’s efforts, a rollback truck arrived, and the towing service initiated the grim task of recovering what remained of the chassis. It was then that David noticed a faint red light still glowing amid the charred and melted remnants of his truck. Upon closer inspection, he identified one of his FoxFire Lights, miraculously still illuminated. Astonishingly, even after five hours at the tow yard, the light continued to shine in the charred side box. David seized the moment, capturing photographs of the lights and commented, “they definitely take a beating.”
FoxFire Light Survives!
David shared his experience with the FoxFire lights, revealing that he had been using them for approximately five years without needing to replace the batteries. Granted, he only used them occasionally, hauling 5-10 oversize loads each year. However, he held these lights in high regard, primarily due to the SafeTruck FoxFire lights’ neodymium magnets boasting an impressive 90 lbs of pull. He utilized these lights to enhance safety during the transport of oversize loads, affixing them to steel plates.
Close-up photograph of the Red FoxFire Light in the side box of David’s truck
David’s Experience and Lessons
Recalling the incident, David emphasized the importance of preparedness, highlighting the need for items like a spare fire extinguisher and practicing various emergency scenarios. He acknowledged that the incident had unfolded at a blistering pace, leaving him with barely enough time to grasp some personal belongings before evacuating the truck. Stressing the significance of readiness, he recommended that all drivers maintain a readily accessible go-bag, prepared for swift evacuation, leaving everything else behind if necessary.
Furthermore, David stressed the importance of carefully reviewing insurance policies, including homeowners’ insurance. Many of his personal items, such as clothing, equipment, electronics, and more, were not fully covered at the time of the incident. His insurance policy then only offered 10% coverage for such losses, resulting in minimal compensation for items valued at approximately $15,000. Subsequently, David switched to a policy that now provides full coverage for personal item losses.
The chassis and remains of David’s truck in a tow yard.
The Fire’s Mysterious Cause
The cause of the fire remains a mystery, despite investigations conducted by David’s insurance provider and fire investigators. While David uncovered information online indicating issues with starter wiring harnesses causing fires in other 2014 Freightliner Cascadia trucks, he could not definitively attribute this as the cause of his own fire.
Thanking David and Providing Support
We here at Ms. Carita SafeTruck are thankful that David is safe – gear is replaceable, people are not. In gratitude for sharing his harrowing story, David received replacement gear to help offset the loss of his truck safety items in the fire, including a new set of FoxFire Lights.
David’s experience serves as a compelling reminder of the importance of preparedness, safety, and the durability of FoxFire Lights. In the world of trucking, where unforeseen challenges can arise at any moment, being well-prepared can make all the difference in ensuring a safe and secure journey.
Bigger. Stronger. Safer.
Ms. Carita SafeTruck Premium FoxFire Lights