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Tonya Papanikolas ReportingA motor home caught fire on I-80 this morning, leaving a woman who was traveling through Utah stranded. The fire shut down the 7200 West exit of I-80 for a time around 9 a.m.
Several agencies responded to the fire and put it out, but the motor home was a total loss. Firefighters say the fire started in the engine compartment. They don't know what set it off, but we do know the woman was trying to get to a very important family function.
The burned-out frame of unrecognizable metal and plastic used to be a motor home. This morning a woman was driving it along I-80 near 7000 west when she realized something was wrong.
Salt Lake City Fire Captain Brian Gaulke said, "She did smell smoke and pulled over and saw the smoke and flames and grabbed her extinguisher but was unable to operate it because she was so nervous."
Firefighters say at that point, two young men saw the fire and stopped to help. Captain Gaulke said, "They did deploy the extinguisher, but by then it had gotten too much of a lead, and the best thing for them was to get out, so they helped her out of the motor home."
She escaped injury, along with her little dog that was her traveling companion.
The woman had been on her way from California to Colorado. "She was on her way to Colorado to see her grandson's deployment before he goes to Iraq. They're having a party, which she's gonna miss," Captain Gaulke said.
Fire crews arranged to help the woman find a place to stay in Salt Lake, but she was pretty shaken up since she'd lost some important belongings.
Captain Gaulke explained, "Her husband had passed away a short time ago, and there were some of his belongings that she won't be able to replace."
Troopers say though she lost a lot, she did the right thing.
Travis Marx, a Highway Patrol Trooper, said, "She got herself and her dog, which was very important to her, and didn't try and dig through her personal belongings."
Firefighters don't know who the two men are who stopped to help, but they wanted to publicly thank them. As for the woman, her family was driving in to pick her up today and take her back to California. She still may get to see her grandson before he's deployed, since he may go through California before he's sent overseas.