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Big rig crashes, catches fire on Highway 101 in Santa Rosa

  • Rincon Valley Fire captain Neil Nicholson works at the scene of a big rig accident, where the truck ran into the Yolanda-Hearn Avenue sign on northbound Highway 101, overturned in a ditch and caught fire on Sunday, April 20, 2014. (BETH SCHLANKER / The Press Democrat)

A semi-truck hauling wine barrels hit a large sign on Highway 101 just north of Todd Road in Santa Rosa Sunday morning, causing it to overturn into a ditch and setting the cab on fire.

The driver, Enrique Gacel, 29, of Davis, escaped from the wreck before the fire broke out.

“The driver side door of the truck was ripped off when he hit the sign pole. When the truck rolled over he was able to free himself out of that door,” said Battalion Chief Jack Piccinini of the Santa Rosa Fire Department.

The accident happened about 8:10 a.m. when the big rig, hauling a 53-foot cargo trailer, struck a pole holding up the sign noting the upcoming Yolanda and Hearn avenues exit.

Piccinini said the cab of the truck was destroyed when the diesel tank caught on fire, sending up a large plume of smoke and setting several nearby redwood trees on fire.

The right northbound lane of Highway 101 wasclosed until about 3:30 p.m., when Caltrans crews removed the damaged sign.

Gacel didn't appear to have serious injuries but was transported by ambulance to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital. The CHP is still investigating what caused the truck to hit the sign pole.

The CHP reported the vehicle and trailer belong to JB Hunt.

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