Witnesses Say Trucker Sparked Fire That Caused $2.1 MILLION In Auto Damage
Bakersfield, California – Witnesses are blaming a trucker for a fire sparked along Highway 99 in Bakersfield that resulted in more than $2 million of damage to vehicles at a nearby auto dealership.
California Highway Patrol (CHP) said it began receiving reports of a fire along the right shoulder of the highway’s southbound lanes at 1:30 p.m. on Monday.
Investigators said the fire quickly spread through the grass and brush along the side of the roadway and migrated to a Carmax auto dealership before emergency responders could arrive.
It wasn’t long before the vehicles began igniting and all hell broke loose.
Video from the scene (below courtesy of 23 ABC News/YouTube) reveals the rising flames and the thick, billowing smoke ravaging the dealership’s inventory.
Carmax personnel was evacuated as fire crews battled the flames.
Investigators said 26 vehicles were completely destroyed and 60 more were damaged.
Carmax estimated the total loss at $2.1 million.
Bakersfield Fire Chief Mike Lencioni said authorities are investigating reports that a trucker caused the initial fire to spark.
“There were reports from CHP there was possibly a semi-truck that was dragging something which initially started those grass fires,” he said.
Officials confirmed witnesses said a tractor-trailer traveling northbound was dragging “something” on the the roadway causing it to spark.
However, CHP has yet to verify those reports.
The Bakersfield Fire Department also reported that 20 acres of brush and grass were burned by the fires.
Fortunately, no one was injured in the blaze.
Transportation Nation Network will continue to follow this ongoing investigation.