In the community

Meridian man transferred to Utah burn unit after vehicle fire at Ontario truck stop

ONTARIO – A liberal use of water along with fast action to turn off liquid natural gas valves averted a major explosion Thursday, Nov. 2, when a truck caught fire at the Love’s Travel Stop in north Ontario, according to the Ontario Fire and Rescue Department.

Fire crews also found the truck in a nearby vacant lot on fire. The lot is used to transfer liquid natural gas on a mobile trailer to trucks that operate on natural gas.

The driver of the liquid natural gas truck, Joseph Pesola, 61, of Meridian, was transported by ambulance to a Boise-area hospital after emergency responders arrived at the truck stop after reports of a man on fire. The truck is owned by McNabb Trucking of Pocatello.

According to a GoFundMe account set up by Pesola’s daughter, the Meridian man was severely burned in the fire. Pesola, who had heart surgery in August, incurred burns over 67% of his body, including 3rd degree burns. Pesola had been back to work after his heart surgery just two weeks when he was injured in the fire.

Pesola, a U.S. Air Force veteran and a pastor, was transported from a Boise hospital to a burn unit in Utah where he is expected to be for six months, according to the GoFundMe page. According to the GoFundMe site, Pesola is heavily sedated and intubated. The GoFundMe page is at

The fire triggered a small-scale evacuation at the truck stop.

How the blaze started is still under investigation.

Monday, Nov. 6, the Ontario Fire and Rescue Department reported all liquid natural gas had been unloaded from the damaged truck. According to the agency, air monitoring throughout the incident showed no issues. Fire crews will continue to conduct periodic air monitoring of the area.

Streets in the area – including North Park Blvd and Northwest 9th Street, were opened for traffic Sunday night.

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