Operator flags down fellow trucker, helps him put out trailer fire

David FlahertyDavid Flaherty

David Flaherty, a driver for ABF Freight Systems in Forth Smith, Ark., has been named a Highway Angel by the Truckload Carriers Association for his efforts in aiding a fellow truck driver after his rig caught fire. 

Flaherty, who lives in Walkertown, N.C., was driving down I-85 in Concord, N.C., Nov. 10, Flaherty was driving along I-85 near Concord, North Carolina, at about 11 p.m., when he saw an intermittent flash of orange light ahead. He eventually caught up to the vehicle — another truck hauling doubles —and realized that the flickers were actually embers of heated metal falling from an area near one of the inside rear tires.

The other operator had no idea that there was a problem. It took Flaherty about 10 minutes of honking and flashing his lights to get the man to understand that he needed to pull off the road. Together, Flaherty and the other driver used both of their fire extinguishers to smother the embers. But that wasn’t enough, so they started pouring whatever drinks they had in their vehicles — water, sodas, even cranberry juice. By the time the fire department arrived, the smoldering was finished, but right as they arrived, a tire blew loudly.

“It’s amazing how quickly a tire fire can burn a truck to the ground. They generate a ton of heat,” said Flaherty. “Another 10 minutes and that fire would have burned through the floor of the trailer and destroyed the load. I’ve seen it before — it goes up like a torch.”

TCA has presented Flaherty with a Highway Angel lapel pin, certificate and patch.