Semi truck sparks vegetation fire off southbound Highway 101, traffic impacted

Update, 5:15 p.m.

The CHP has released more details on the crash that sparked a vegetation fire off Highway 101 in Atascadero on Monday.

According to a news release, the driver of a tractor-trailer truck was heading southbound on Highway 101, carrying 79,000 pounds of rocks, when the rear tire on the trailer went flat.

The driver, identified as Jorge Luis Gonzalez of Bakersfield, pulled to the shoulder and stopped. As he looked at the back tire, he saw it was smoking and went to retrieve his fire extinguisher.

Upon returning to the back of the truck, he found that a small fire had started and had jumped onto the shoulder of the highway, CHP said.

According to the release, Gonzalez tried to put out the fire but was unable to keep it from growing.

Fire crews responded while CHP and CalTrans closed the highway’s southbound lands. As of 5 p.m., the No. 2 lane remains closed, according to the news release.

Update, 3:20 p.m.

The No. 1 lane of southbound Highway 101 near Santa Barbara Road has reopened, according to CHP Ofcr. Pat Seebart. The No. 2 lane will be closed for about five hours as crews continue to clean up.

Update, 2:50 p.m.

The fire is 100 percent contained, Cal Fire said. The blaze burned about 3/4 of an acre, as well as the semi truck.

Cal Fire said crews will remain on the scene mopping up for at least an hour.

Update, 2:30 p.m.

The fire has burned about a half-acre, Cal Fire said. All firefighting aircraft have been released.

“Traffic may be slowed down while firefighters extinguish hot spots,” the agency said.

Original story:

Firefighters are responding to a vegetation fire along southbound Highway 101 south of the Santa Barbara Road off ramp in Atascadero, according to Cal Fire.

Just before 2 p.m., a semi truck was reported on fire, according to the CHP’s incident information log. The fire then spread into the vegetation, according to Cal Fire.

As of 2:15 p.m., the CHP is closing southbound Highway 101 at Santa Barbara Road, according to CHP Officer Pat Seebart. Traffic will be diverted onto El Camino Real.

Additional information was not immediately available.

On Friday, another fire ignited in the same area after a Ford F-150 truck crashed into a hillside near Santa Barbara Road, burning 54 acres, prompting evacuations and causing hours-long traffic backups.

This story will be updated as information becomes available.

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