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RV burns during travelers' stop

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River Falls,Wisconsin 54022
Hudson Star Observer
715-386-9891 customer support
RV burns during travelers' stop
River Falls Wisconsin 2815 Prairie Drive / P.O. Box 25 54022

James Stephens and his wife didn't have a problem until they pulled off I-94 at Hudson Friday afternoon, said Assistant Fire Chief Dan Roeglin.


They parked in the lot at the Associated Bank on Second Street to take a break from the road and call their friends in Minneapolis to let them know they would be arriving soon.

But when they stopped, the Stephenses noticed smoke coming from the engine compartment of their 2003 Coachmen motor home. Once outside, they looked underneath the vehicle and saw liquid (most likely gasoline, according to Roeglin) burning on the ground beneath the engine.

Within a matter of seconds, the motor home was engulfed in flames. Within minutes, it was a melted and charred mess with no roof and most of one side missing.

"They (motor homes) burn really fast. They're basically plastic, foam and a lot of flammable liquids and propane," Roeglin said.

He said he suspects that the vehicle's fuel line either disconnected or broke, causing the fire.

Someone tried to put out the fire with a fire extinguisher before the Hudson Fire Department arrived, but to no avail, Roeglin said. It was reported by an employee of the nearby Associated Bank.

Roeglin said the entire vehicle was engulfed in flames when the fire department arrived.

"We kind of had the fire knocked down a little bit, but then the release valve on the propane tank opened so we had propane burning out of that tank, too," he said.

He said firefighters were forced to back away from the motor home until the propane fire burned out.

The bank building wasn't in serious danger of catching fire, Roeglin said, and Stephens had parked far enough away from other vehicles in the lot so that none of them were damaged.

The blaze happened at about 4:15 p.m. Friday, providing a spectacle for commuters returning from their jobs in the Twin Cities.

The Stephenses had left their home in Gillett, near Green Bay, at about 10 a.m. Friday, according to Roeglin.

He said an expensive wooden flute belonging to James Stephens survived the fire inside its case, although the case was destroyed. A trumpet belonging to Stephens didn't fare as well, he said.

Firefighters were able to retrieve a couple of travel bags and some lawn chairs from the vehicle, Roeglin said. "That was about it."

The Stephenses left Hudson in a rental car from the local Enterprise office.

Randy Hanson can be reached at

Randy Hanson
Randy Hanson has reported for the Star-Observer since 1997. He came to Hudson after 11 years with the Inter-County Leader at Frederic, and eight years of teaching social studies. He’s a graduate of UW-Eau Claire.
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