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Beaverhead Search & Rescue Called Out For Stranded Motorist After Vehicle Catches Fire

Beaverhead Search and Rescue News
Submitted by: Mel Rice-Public Relations Officer

The Beaverhead Search and Rescue was called out for a second night in a row on Tuesday October 11, 2023. Initially the fire department had been paged for a vehicle fire on Gallagher Mountain, southwest of Dillon. When the fire department could not reach the incident because of road conditions, the BVHD SAR unit was paged to go rescue the individual whose vehicle was burning. The page was received at 8:44 PM for members with all-terrain vehicles to go up on Gallagher Mountain to retrieve the young man. The weather was very inclement with rain in the lower elevations and snow at the elevation of the vehicle. The owner of the vehicle was from Billings and was out scouting for elk when he saw his jeep had caught on fire. He called 911 for help. The young man indicated he would stay with the vehicle until help arrived. After the fire had burned itself out and because of the cold wet weather and because all of his clothes had just been destroyed, the cold wet individual decided to walk down the

road to stay warm and meet the rescue teams.

Hasty team 1, comprised of Zane Woods and Trevor Hyland, was dispatched to the fire location at 9:28 PM. Approximately 20 minutes later a second hasty team, made up of John Helle and Shawn Ishler, was sent to the same location to aide in bringing the burned vehicle’s owner off the mountain. When team 1 arrived at the vehicle at 10:14 PM there was no one to be found. They started trying to figure out which direction the man had gone. The owner who had started walking out took a wrong turn and watched his rescuers drive by at a distance. At that time he started walking cross country to the right road and reached it just as team two made it to his location at 10:48 PM. All parties left the vehicle on the mountain and returned to town at 11:50 PM. Incident commanders on the rescue were Lawrence Morrisroe and Taylor Grover. Other members working the command center were Joe Reyes and Jamie Trivette.

After each incident that your S&R is involved with we like to remind people to be prepared both physically and equipment wise. This is a great example of an individual being completely prepared and yet lost everything he had and was consequently caught out in the elements without necessary clothing for the weather conditions by no fault of his own. It is assumed that the young man stopped his vehicle in an area with heavy long grasses which were against the catalytic converter of the jeep. Because of the dryness of the grass and the heat from the converter, it all ignited burning the vehicle completely. The grasses in Beaverhead County are very healthy and dry at this point. Please recognize this potential for fire ignition and park your vehicles in responsible locations. With hunting season opening this weekend, do take care, be prepared, and stay aware. Last year we had the same weather leading into open day and ended the day with multiple inches and in some cases feet of snow. Please be vigilant in what you are doing. “In the Business of Saving Lives”, your Beaverhead Search and Rescue.

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