A Wednesday afternoon big rig vs. train collision and a Friday morning multi-alarm fire kept Escalon fire crews busy this past week.
On Friday, shortly before noon, the firefighters responded to a report of a large outdoor fire in the area of Highway 120, the 27000 block, across from Campbell Avenue at the eastern edge of the city limits.
“It was a controlled burn that got out of control on a very windy day, it spread to two dumpsters, a pile of tires and some dry grass in the area,” explained Escalon Fire Chief Rick Mello. “It was far enough away from any structures that none were damaged but it could have been ugly.”
The fire was near the back of the Paddack property, said the chief. Along with an Escalon engine, water tender and brush truck, mutual aid was called in including water tenders from Farmington and Salida, a brush truck from Modesto and a Battalion Chief from Modesto was also on scene to assist.
It took a few hours to bring the fire under control and fire and police got multiple calls regarding the black smoke in the area; all were traced back to the fire off the highway.
“They (Escalon firefighters) went back Sunday night, for a rekindle and those tires will smolder for a while, it is a difficult fire to put out,” said Mello.
Earlier in the week, on Wednesday afternoon, June 10, a freight train struck a big rig trailer hauling cattle, with the incident occurring in the area of Van Allen and Lone Tree roads.
The Burlington-Northern Santa Fe train partially derailed; there were no injuries to train personnel or the big rig driver but officials said nearly all of the several dozen head of cattle perished.
“There were cow haulers from San Lorenzo, these are cows that come over from Hawaii, by ship, to the Port of Oakland,” explained Mello.
The cows were on the next leg of the journey after leaving Oakland when the accident occurred, about 3:30 p.m. Wednesday.
“The driver that was struck was following the first rig; the first one crossed the tracks safely, the other driver went around the crossing guard and the train directly struck the trailer,” Mello said.
The clean-up operations and investigation into the incident took several hours, with the area opening back up about 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, according to the CHP.
Firefighters also responded to the area of McHenry Rec on Sunday evening, to a report of a vehicle fire – officials said that case was in connection with a stolen vehicle that rammed a San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Department vehicle and then ran into an orchard. The driver and passenger –who were both later apprehended – fled the scene on foot. The deputy had minor injuries, said officials, and the driver of the suspected stolen vehicle was also taken to the hospital with minor injuries after being taken into custody. Along with Escalon Fire, the Escalon Police Department assisted on the scene, utilizing their UAV (drone) to help with the search for the suspects.
There was no other information available regarding the incident by presstime Monday night.