WEAU | Eau Claire, Wisconsin | News, Weather, & Sports

NEW INFORMATION: Driver escapes after snow plow catches fire

By: Lindsay Alowairdi, Joe Nelson and Andrew Fefer Email
By: Lindsay Alowairdi, Joe Nelson and Andrew Fefer Email

ALTOONA, Wis. (WEAU) - Salting and plowing the icy roads made for a scary situation for an Eau Claire woman driving a snow plow.

It all happened at about eleven Thursday morning on River Prairie Drive off of Highway 53.

Quick thinking got Debra Prill out of the truck before the flames torched the cab, after that, the help of strangers brought her to safety.

“I was checking traffic, and I heard a hiss and a pop and turned and when I turned, there were flames shooting up the driver side door and the window,” Prill said.

While on her snow plow route, driving for Eau Claire County, Prill said she knew what to do when her truck burst into flames.

“I said I have to get out. And it was just that quick too. It was, oh no, I’m not going to burn, I gotta get out of here and I jumped,” she said.

“I fell on my hands and knees and I’ve got some skinned knees and a bruised elbow and a little whiplash to the neck. And then I was on fire.”

Prill said a fractured fuel line may have been the cause of the fire, and that with minor injuries, she appreciates everyone who helped her when she needed it most.

“Be thankful for every day. You never know what's going to happen.”

Prill says she hasn't decided if she'll need to take any time off, but does plan on plowing snow again soon.


The Altoona Fire Department and the Township Fire Department, Inc. were simultaneously dispatched, per mutual aid agreement, to the intersection of US Highway 53 and River Prairie Drive in the City of Altoona for a vehicle on fire with the driver possibly injured from the incident. Additional information from dispatch advised the vehicle was a snowplow and the driver was out of the vehicle. The vehicle was a double axel dump truck with the entire cab was fully involved with fire. The Altoona Fire Department requested assistance from the Eau Claire Fire Department for one engine company to assist with extinguishment.

The driver, whose name will not be released at this time, was transported to Mayo Hospital. The driver was treated for minor bumps and bruises and released.

The vehicle is owned and operated by the Eau Claire County Highway Department and is most likely a total loss.

Preliminary result of a cause of the fire is a fuel line rupture near the engine however, it is still under investigation.
EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- Crews responded to a snow plow fire on Highway 53 near the River Prairie exit in Eau Claire Thursday morning.

The fire broke out around 11 a.m. The snow plow was fully engulfed in flames when crews got there and smoke could be seen from the 53 Bypass. Firefighters say the female driver was able to escape with minor injuries. There's no word yet on the cause of the fire.

Stay tuned to WEAU 13 News and weau.com for the latest.

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