(Top) Ventura County firefighter Dan Palacios works to knock down the flames on a well-involved truck fire. The fire eventually ignited nearby brush as well. Ventura County firefighters were assisted by units from Santa Paula and the city of Ventura. (Bottom) Workers pick up the pieces ripped from the motorhome. (Top photo courtesy of the Ventura County Fire Department. Bottom photo by Bethany Blackshear)

Fiery crash on Hwy 126 causes grass fire, diesel spill, traffic jam

May 13, 2011
Santa Paula News

A truck holding a roll-off slammed into the back of an RV Monday on eastbound Highway 126 at Briggs Road, an accident that left two people with minor injuries and started a quickly contained brush fire and a diesel fuel spill. The collision, which occurred at about 3:10 p.m., was just one of several that plagued county roads on May 9.

According to California Highway Patrol Officer Steve Reid, the driver of the 2004 motor home, Joline Pebley, 47, of Brea, “had a front tire blow out” west of Briggs Road. Pebley pulled over onto the shoulder, but the motor home, said Reid, “was partially in the slow lane... and a truck comes up from behind.”

The right side front of the truck with a roll-off - driven by Jose Pulido Estrada, 53, of Piru - struck the motor home on the left rear and left side of the vehicle, and then the truck burst into flames. “There was an engine fire that completely engulfed the truck” that Reid said spread to the roadside growth. He added that Pebley and her passenger, David Pebley, 62, both had “cuts and bruises, minor injuries” resulting from the crash.

Ventura County Fire PIO Bill Nash said firefighters from the VCFD, City of Ventura and Santa Paula Fire departments responded to the scene and were quickly able to extinguish the fire and contain a diesel fuel spill. “The spill was about 50 gallons that was contained in little berms along the roadway... the firefighters did a good job of keeping it from going into the waterways.”

Nash said there was no specific cause of the fire: “It’s fairly typical at this time of year when we get a major vehicle fire that’s adjacent to grass, it’s very common” that the fire spreads due to a variety of reasons including radiant heat.

The incident, he noted, was “major and demonstrates again the partnership” between the fire departments and other public safety agencies. The location of the incident presented challenges, as “It was hard to get there, but once on scene everyone worked on the same page” to deal with the truck and grass fire as well as the diesel spill.

“Access was very difficult,” especially, Nash added, “for the people trapped in traffic.... There was no way out for them.”

Reid said the CHP had one traffic lane closed, and it wasn’t until 8:10 p.m. that the highway was fully open.

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