Truck stop employees turn firefighters

Updated May 31, 2020

Several employees of a travel center in northwest Nevada recently stepped up to fight a fire that threatened their workplace and more.

On Friday, May 15, a vehicle left the Interstate 80 exit ramp in Mill City northeast of Reno and burst into flames in the desert. A Nevada Highway Patrol officer was in pursuit and managed to apprehend one of two occupants fleeing the vehicle.

Front, left to right: Kody Hill, Sasha Darr, Dave Gentry, John Menicucci, Sam GilbreathFront, left to right: Kody Hill, Sasha Darr, Dave Gentry, John Menicucci, Sam Gilbreath

It was about then that a technician at the nearby TA Travel Center noticed the fire was spreading toward the officer and the suspect, as well as the truck stop. He grabbed a fire extinguisher and ran to the aid of the highway patrol officer.

At about the same time, the TA’s General Manager Sasha Darr was at home and saw the heavy, black smoke coming from the direction of her facility. A statement from the company says she called the store and learned the wind was pushing the fire straight toward the TA Truck Service shop. Darr is said to have jumped into her truck and sped to the TA, and once there, checked on employees, and had the building evacuated. Then she and four other employees turned to fight the fire.

Travis MonroeTravis Monroe

Farr, Sam Gilbreath, Travis Monroe, Dave Gentry and Kody Hill grabbed what they could – shovels, a rake and a snow shovel – and ran into the desert to fight the fire. They formed a line and began to throw dirt on the fire. They were joined by another employee, John Menicucci, and managed to keep the blaze from reaching the travel center’s truck service center.

However, the wind had shifted, and the fire had started burning toward the road, which it jumped and headed toward some employee housing. The Imlay Volunteer Fire Department arrived extinguished the blaze.

“These guys were a huge help,” said Darr, herself a volunteer fire fighter. “They didn’t have to do what they did, but it was greatly appreciated and very honorable for the company. I love this team out here; they’re my people!”

“All TA employees have proven to be heroes during this pandemic by coming to work each day to keep products moving across the country’” said Ed Kirkwood, TA’s regional vice president of operations in the Northwest. “But like I told this group of Mill City team members, each of them stepped it up a notch and became superheroes. Without any hesitation, they jumped into action and helped saved the site from burning down.

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“Getting a first-hand look at the burn marks, you can see the fire could have easily engulfed the whole site if this selfless group didn’t take immediate action.”