Burning coal falling from truck may have started multiple fires in North Dakota

If this story is true, it is completely new to me as an ignition source for a wildland fire. Why would burning coal be on a truck?

Below is an excerpt from an article at TwinCities.com:

GRAND FORKS, N.D. — Grass fires along a roughly 60-mile stretch of Interstate 29 Wednesday could have been caused by burning pieces of coal falling from a truck’s conveyor and onto the road, according to Walsh County Sheriff Ron Jurgens.

The truck was traveling south from Walhalla, N.D., toward Grand Forks, he said.

“Every time the wind would gust, it would blow some … onto the roadway,” said Jurgens Thursday.

Jurgens said a vehicle dragging its chains “had nothing to do” with fires along I-29, as had been reported earlier.

Fires popped up all along the route the truck took, Jurgens said, from Walhalla, along North Dakota Highway 5, south down I-29, to Grand Forks.

Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire. Google+

4 thoughts on “Burning coal falling from truck may have started multiple fires in North Dakota”

  1. I’ve seen failing truck wheel bearing or brakes cause fire’s, bad exhaust systems, garbage trucks that took in a load of still burning charcoal briquettes, and a host of other vehicle/trailer causes start miles long strings of ignition. But never coal. A interesting investigation to do.

  2. While working as a contract EMT at a coal fired power plant, one day after a rain shower, I found it that coal can catch on fire from the water. The sunlight will refract through the drops like a magnifying glass and start a fire. Oddest thing I had ever seen.

  3. We see coal burning in coal trains all the time in our area. sometimes the trucks get called in to haul away from a derailment of coal that is still burning.

  4. Yes, under the right condition,s coal will auto-ignite. This historically was a hazard for ships carrying coal.

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