Wednesday, 24 April 2024

Local firefighters respond to tanker truck fire


SOUTH LAKE COUNTY – Lake County fire units responded to a tanker fire Tuesday that closed down Highway 20 for several hours.

The tanker truck, carrying 7,500 gallons of kerosene, caught fire at about 9:30 a.m. one mile west of Mitchell Flat and several miles into Colusa County, according to the California Highway Patrol.

A CHP report issued late Tuesday explained that Dennis R. Moody, 59, of Willits was driving the 2007 Peterbilt tank truck pulling a silver tank trailer at or near the 55 mile per hour speed limit when the drive-line broke, causing it to bounce below the undercarriage.

The drive-line bounced into the tank, causing it to puncture, according to the CHP report.

A spark was then ignited by the loose drive-line, causing a fire to break out in the undercarriage. CHP said the fire spread to the tanks and ignited the kerosene in them.

When Moody noticed the mechanical problem and saw the fire, the CHP report said he immediately pulled over to the right shoulder.

Moody left the vehicle and went to a safe area while awaiting the arrival of emergency personnel, CHP reported. He did not suffer any injuries.

Northshore Battalion Chief Pat Brown reported that his district sent one water tender and a battalion chief to the blaze as part of its mutual aide agreement with Williams Fire Department.

Williams sent two engines, two water tenders, a rescue unit and two chief officers, Brown reported.

Also responding was Lake County Fire Protection District with a water tender and Cal Fire with an engine, according to Brown.

Brown said the tanker was fully involved when the fire units arrival. The truck's aluminum tanks had split open, which he said such tanks are designed to do so an explosion won't result.

Firefighters decided to let the fire burn itself out due to the size, said Brown.

The fire burned a half-acre of grass, but Brown said the biggest concern was the environment, including a small stream just downhill.

Firefighters were successful in keeping the waterway clear because they let the fire burn down before applying about 15 gallons of foam, said Brown.

The roadway was completely closed until 12:30 p.m., when CHP opened the eastbound lane to one-way traffic control.

Caltrans advised that they would be on scene conducting cleanup until about 9 p.m., and advised drivers to expect delays due to continuing traffic control.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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