Mountain Aire burns to the ground after blowout

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Well-known member
Mar 11, 2005
wherever we are parked
This from the Newmar Diesel Pusher forum:

Message: 15       
  Date: Tue, 03 May 2005 05:55:04 -0000
  From: "TONY" <[email protected]>
Subject: My MH FIRE after TIRE blow out

My MH FIRE after TIRE blow out

A right front tire blowout at less than 65 mph on I-95 in South
Carolina resulting in our 2000 Newmar Mountain Aire coach burning to
the ground, on Friday, April 22, 2005.

My Pressure Pro monitored the 16 month old, 12000 mile worn,
Goodyear tire at 119# prior to the blowout.  My cruise control was
set at 64 mph and Copilot confirmed the speed.  There were no
obvious road hazards or indications of any problems.  The tire was
always kept shaded and on rubber insulating pads when parked on
concrete for any prolonged periods.  The other tires were 5 year
old, Michelin, and had 51000 miles on them.  The left front tire
coincidently was also at 119#, unusual for them both to be equal,
and the rear tires were approx. 109# outside rear and 112# inside. 
I always check them several times each day when I am traveling with
the Pressure Pro. 

I was traveling Northbound on I-95, in the right lane and the coach
was climbing an overpass and at about 300 feet from the top, the
right front tire blew out.  The coach immediately pulled hard right
into the parking lane and it took a lot of strength to keep the
coach in that parking lane and not going off the right edge of the
road and into the grass and down the grade.  I was able to regain
control and bring the coach back into the right traffic lane so that
I could continue over the overpass and miss the narrowing guard
rail.  After returning to the right lane and while on the overpass,
I was able to begin to apply the brakes and slowly moved to the
right and back into the parking lane on the down grade.  At this
point I already noticed flames in the right rear view mirror.  I was
unable to stop in the next 600 ft, because of the guard rail
adjacent to the parking lane, which would have made it impossible to
open the exit door, which is located in front of the right front
blown, burning tire.  I was able to stop about 600 ft past the end
of the guard rail and off the road in the parking lane.  By the time
I stopped, the flames were over the top of the exit door, and it was
now impossible to exit via the front door.  As I attempted to get
the FOAM filled fire extinguisher from behind the passenger's seat,
I noticed flames between the front door and the passenger seat about
a foot high in the coach.  I couldn't believe the volume of fire
which had developed within less that 1 minute from the time of the
blowout.  Without any further expectations of possibly being able to
extinguishing the fire, my immediate interest shifted to how we were
going to get out of the coach.  Since the traffic was still
screaming by us without stopping, the bedroom emergency exit on the
driver's side was out of the question, so the bedroom non-emergency
window on the passenger side was the only one left.  Exiting the
coach via this window wasn't bad, but the edge of the grass was on
fire from the end of the guard rail, 600 ft back to the front of the
coach and I had to jump clear of the fire.  I jumped first and
beyond the flames, and ended up several feet down the steep grade
because of the overpass.  I climbed back up to the flames and kicked
dirt on the fire with my stocking feet.  Then I lifted my wife from
the rear window to safety.  I had her run to the back of our toad
and I proceeded to unhook the car.  Needles to say, that took less
than another minute, and out came the brake buddy, and we were out
of there. 

For the next 15 minutes we watched our coach burn with all our
possessions, jewelry, cloths, identification, money, computers,
everything, until the fire department arrived and by that time the
coach was fully involved.  The fire department couldn't do anything
but cool the ashes.  I-95 was blocked for about 2 hours and we just
stood there, thankful we were alive and trying to figure it all out.

I wanted everyone to know, that I was very safety conscious, and
never expected that this could happen to us, but it did.  I thought
I had thought of everything and prepared for most everything, but
never expected it could happen to us.  With all the safety
preparations we still lost everything.  Now there is more, the
insurance issues, contents coverage.  When you are a full-timer or a
most timer we carry a lot of STUFF.  We have more than you think you
have.  Our coverage may not be enough.  And of course then there is
the insurance for the Motorhome itself.  Believe me, I am an
insurable person, and I still may have missed things.  My insurance
is via Mendota, and my homeowner's in Florida is Allstate.  I hope I
can help better prepare someone better than I was, if we can ever be
better prepared.   

Tony & Mary Arcuri, Pembroke Pines, Fl. FMCA, NEWMAR CLUB 


Moderator Emeritus
Jan 29, 2005
Home is where we park it
caltex said:
Scary story, good reason to have more than one fire extinguisher aboard.

You bet it is and that is why we have five foam extinguishers, besides the flaky power tyoe theat came with the coach inside, a extinguisher in the propane bay on the drivers side and one in the forward most bay on the passenger side.? We also have two foam extinguishers in the back of the toad.

Thanks for posting that Smoky.  We never like to hear of such tagic events but it does help remind us of the possibility and hopefully remind us to be prepared.


Moderator Emeritus
Apr 8, 2005

Being prepared is good, being lucky is better. :) :) :)


Well-known member
Mar 12, 2005
Just a thought...don't know if this is a factor but, when changing a tire, both tires on the same axle should be changed and be the same brand/model/size.



Moderator Emeritus
Jan 29, 2005
Personally, I'm wondering if those high tire pressures (116-119 psi) had something to do with the blow-out.


New member
May 3, 2005
possible that leak stop had been put into the tire.  Some of these are very dangerous :eek:


Well-known member
Mar 11, 2005
wherever we are parked
There are some folks theorizing now that the tire did not cause the fire, but blew out because a fire had already started, perhaps by something like a steering fluid leak that somehow caught fire.  The theory has weight because no one can figure how a tire could create such ferocious fire.


Well-known member
Mar 11, 2005
wherever we are parked
Here is the latest on poor Tony, a good primer in insurance coverage for the rest of us:


Subject: : Mendota Saga

Thanks for the update Les...

I just got off the phone with Tony. In effect he lost everything including
paper records (his policy hard copy) of everything, PCs, back up drives and
CDs, clothing... everything. He now has a home port so to speak and bough a
new PC to be able to communicate. His first dialog with Mendota is not very
comforting with respect to contents coverage.

I will give a couple of examples but, Tony said he will be posting examples
experiences sometime, hopefully soon, what he has been told by Mendota.

1. There are different coverage rules for contents in a home policy verses a
vehicle policy.

2. His Data Storm and his computer desk is an add on thus not covered by
contents provision of his policy. They would have had to have been declared
earlier with the insurance company by submission of receipts increasing the
value of the policy. He did not do that. An attachment to a vehicle is
different than with a house policy.  .

3. His laptops would not have been covered by contents if they had been
plugged in for use in the operation of the vehicle for example mapping
engine monitoring. They would have had to be declared separately like in #1
above.  But, during the inquiry he informed them he was transporting them so
they will fall under contents.

4. Replacement value for what is considered content must be documented and
submitted to the insurance company. These values are significantly more than
that people realize. He will exceed his content insurance amount and be
short on replacement. .

He has been busy for a couple days documenting what they had in the coach
and has at least another week of sorting all this out. He hopes the total
replacement  value of the MH.will work out for him but, right now it doesn't
look good. He doesn't have a copy of his policy yet because it was destroyed
in the fire.

Just on the couple items I noted above it would behoove readers to look at
this very closely with respect to your policy, specifically with respect to
what is considered content and what is considered add on.

Tony only has the word of his agent to back up how his coverage is set up
and that will make the whole resolution complex. his agent told him
DataStorm and other items would fall under contents. Bottom line.... get it
in writing..


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