The chaos typified events across Stanislaus County, where 200 firefighters battled a wind-swept 100-acre wildfire near Knights Ferry, which closed a portion of Highway 108-120 for four hours, and emergency crews tended to about 25 other fires reported in the county.
On Highway 99, just after , a van crashed into a guardrail in the northbound lane near the
The fire destroyed many of the 30 vacant mobile homes in a storage yard on
While CHP and
· A woman, nine months pregnant, who went into labor in her car in the stalled southbound lane of Highway 99.
· An infant, also in a car on the highway, running a "severe fever," according to police.
· Several people who called 911 with smoke inhalation and other fire-related injuries.
· A woman who had a seizure in the Monte Vista Crossings area.
"Everything fell apart all at once," said CHP spokesman
Witnesses told the CHP the van, which was carrying "eight or nine" people, was traveling northbound in the middle lane on Highway 99 "at a high rate of speed, 80 to 90 miles per hour," CHP officer
It moved to the left lane just as, according to a witness, an armored truck moved from the middle to left-hand lane, causing the van driver to slam on the brakes and sending the vehicle into a spin and into a guardrail, Gowin said.
Three people were ejected, and a woman died on the scene. Another was seriously injured and flown by helicopter to
The fire started north of
A dozen agencies, led by Turlock City Fire, brought it under control about Still, by 6:30, as firefighters were leaving the storage yard, rows and rows of mobile homes still were smoking, burned down to the blocks.
Toby Helton and
"You couldn't even see outside," Helton said. "It was all smoke."
Flames also threatened Suburban Propane on
"The sales team watched it burn until it got close, then locked the doors and ran," said
At one point, Highway 99 was closed from the
Some commuters spent upward of three hours in their vehicles, officials said. A caller to The Bee who said she got on the freeway in
Side streets in central
Wind wreaks havoc
The wind was a major factor in dozens of other grassfires throughout the region Thursday. Houk said recent dry weather and low humidity were the other factors that allowed the fires to get out of control Thursday.
In response to a series of grass fires Thursday morning, county officials formed a quick response task force of three fire engines, said deputy
The task force was centrally stationed in the
He said the task force was busy near Knights Ferry when the fire started near
Houk said the first fire engine assigned to tackle the blaze near
"There were about three to four major incidents all around the same time," Houk said.
Gusts were recorded as high as 39 mph in
Those winds helped drive a 20-acre grass fire at
"The wind took a little road-side grass fire that usually would take one engine to handle and turned it into an eight- engine, two-hour grass fire,"
Source:Modesto Bee News
Source:Modesto Bee News