Big-rig crash cleared from Dumbarton Bridge


By Rachel Purdy

Bay City News Service

All lanes on the Dumbarton Bridge have reopened following a fiery crash that involved a big-rig this morning (Feb. 22), a California Highway Patrol spokesman said.

The big-rig crashed into a stalled sedan and caught fire in the eastbound lanes of the bridge at about 11:05 a.m., CHP Officer Rachaude Crawford said.

No one was seriously hurt in the crash, but the driver of the big-rig may have suffered minor injuries, Menlo Park Fire Chief Harold Schapelhouman said. The driver was transported to a hospital as a precaution, Crawford said.

The sedan had stalled in an eastbound lane of the bridge due to mechanical problems, Crawford said. The sedan's driver, a Palo Alto resident in her 60s, and her adult daughter exited the vehicle before the big-rig struck it, he said.

The crash ignited a fire, which the driver of the big-rig attempted to put out with a fire extinguisher he had in the truck, Crawford said. But by the time the driver grabbed his fire extinguisher, flames had spread too quickly for him to contain it, Crawford said.

About 100 gallons of diesel "added fuel to fire," Crawford said. The big-rig's cargo, which consisted of wood palettes and plastic totes, also caught fire, Crawford said.

It took about 30 to 45 minutes for the Menlo Park Fire Protection District to put out the fire, Schapelhouman said.

Schapelhouman said that time could have been shortened if a more accessible water supply were available. He said there is only one hydrant, located inconveniently at the base of the bridge.

The Menlo Park Fire Protection District relied on the assistance of the Fremont Fire Department, which supplied two fire engines to help shuttle water to the crash site, Schapelhouman said. Those were in addition to Menlo Park's three engines.

He likened the process to an "old-fashioned bucket brigade."

Schapelhouman said that between 2,500 and 4,000 gallons of water was used to extinguish the blaze.

— Bay City News Service

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