Cal Fire law enforcement officers arrested a Reno man at about 5:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 7, after a dragging axle allegedly started the "139 Fire," which consisted of three separate fires started about 4 p.m. Monday along Highway 139. Photo courtesy of Cal Fire Lassen-Modoc Unit.

Driver arrested after trailer’s dragging axle allegedly starts 139 Fire

A Cal Fire law enforcement officer arrested a Reno man at about 5:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 7, after a dragging axle allegedly sent sparks into the roadside vegetation and started the “139 Fire,” which consisted of three separate fires started about 4 p.m. Monday along Highway 139.

According to a Thursday, Sept. 10 statement from the Cal Fire Lassen Modoc Unit, the three fires started about 1 mile south of Adin in Lassen County, the smallest of which was less than one acre and the largest was 30 acres.

“The cause of the fire was determined to be a travel trailer that experienced failure of its wheel bearings. This caused the trailer to lose its tire, which made the axle come in contact with the roadway, sending hot sparks and hot material into the vegetation along the highway,” read the statement from Cal Fire.

“The driver towing the trailer drove over 40 miles from Adin to Eagle Lake before he was apprehended,” the statement continued. “The suspect was booked into Lassen County Jail on suspicion of violating Penal Code 452(c), unlawfully and recklessly causing a fire that burns or causes to be burned, any structure, forest land or property.”

As fire danger remains extreme across California, Cal Fire reminded residents of vehicle safety:

  • Never let your brake pads wear too thin. Metal on metal makes sparks.
  • Vehicles parked too closely to vegetation starts fires.
  • Dragging chains will throw sparks. Never substitute parts when towing. Only use appropriate safety pins and hitch ball.
  • Make sure your vehicle is properly maintained, with nothing dragging on the ground.
  • Check tire pressure. Driving on an exposed wheel rim throws sparks.

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