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Woman killed in fiery oil tanker truck collision on Hwy. 166 near Santa Maria

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A woman was killed early Wednesday in a fiery head-on collision involving a tanker truck on Highway 166 east of Santa Maria. 

Just before 2 a.m., personnel from the Santa Barbara County Fire Department and California Highway Patrol responded to the incident on the 7700 block of Highway 166, near Cottonwood Canyon Road, county fire Capt. Dave Zaniboni said.

A Ford F-250 pickup truck was eastbound when it drifted into the westbound lanes and into the path of semi tractor-trailer loaded with crude oil, according to CHP Officer Efrem Moore. 

The driver of the tanker, Miguel Ayala Jr., 31, of Shafter, slowed but was unable to avoid the collision, Moore said. 

The pickup ran off the south side of the roadway, where it became engulfed in flames, Moore said. 

The big-rig also left the highway, and rolled onto its side, but Ayala was not injured, Zaniboni added. 

The woman driving the pickup was pronounced dead at the scene, Moore said. Her name was not released pending notification of relatives. 

Authorities determined that the incident happened in San Luis Obispo County, and summoned the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Department, Cal Fire and environmental health representatives to the scene. 

Oil from the tanker-truck leaked out onto the dirt and the roadway during recovery operations, Moore said, and clean-up was underway. 

Highway 166 between Tepusquet Road and the Cuyama Valley was closed for several hours as a result of the collision, but was fully open as of 11:25 a.m., according to a Caltrans District 5 tweet

The CHP is investigating the cause of the crash. 

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at jscully@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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