By Ernie Over, managing editor, county10.com
(Hudson, Wyo.) – A 2004 Dodge Caravan operated by the Lander Senior Citizens Center was destroyed by fire during the noon hour today as the driver was returning from conducting home inspections in Riverton. The vehicle burst into flames in the westbound lane about five miles east of Hudson on Highway 789 milepost 97. The driver was the lone occupant of the vehicle, and she escaped unharmed, according to Lander Senior Citizens Director Jane Nolde.
“I was driving back to Riverton and saw her vehicle coming toward me when all of a sudden it looked as though the car slammed into a snow bank with an explosion of white,” said Dustin Stark of Riverton, who stopped to help the driver retrieve items from the vehicle. “There was this white cloud that engulfed the whole highway. She got the vehicle pulled off to the side of the road and I helped her get everything out before it got too hot.” Stark then offered the cab of his pickup for the driver to stay warm while waiting for emergency responders to arrive.
Units from the Hudson Fire Battalion and from Battalion 1 from the Fremont County Fire Protection District arrived on the scene to extinguish the blaze, but the front of vehicle had been consumed by then.
The westbound lane of the highway was closed as firefighters worked to put out the fire while WYDOT workers on the scene directed traffic around the site.
“We immediately had the driver taken to Riverton for a mandatory drug and alcohol test per our policy when there is any kind of an accident,” said Nolde, who declined to identify the driver at this time. “The vehicle is covered by insurance, of course. It’s part of our public transportation system.”
Nolde said the Lander Senior Center maintains a fleet of six vehicles, including three vans with lifts, two 14-passenger buses, and the Caravan. “We help the Cheyenne Housing Authority inspect houses in Riverton and Lander, and our driver was over in Riverton doing an inspection. The fire occurred on the driver’s way back to Lander, she said.