Highway 20 wreck kills two people
Authorities say they’re investigating a Wednesday morning, Jan. 31, fatal wreck involving a fuel tanker that killed two people and sent flames 40 to 50 feet into the air.
The crash, involving a Kilroy’s Towing Service truck and a Stockton-based Williams Tank Lines fuel tanker, happened around 10:10 a.m. on Highway 20, near Bowman Lake Road, in Placer County. The head-on collision caused an explosion that spilled fuel, sent flames into the air and filled the sky with thick smoke, the California Highway Patrol stated.
Authorities haven’t released the names of the two drivers killed in the crash. California Highway Patrol Officer Chris Nave said the flames kept first-responders from nearing the wreck scene.
Lt. Andrew Scott, with the Placer County Sheriff’s Office, said coroner deputies will investigate the deaths.
“But right now we’re not prepared, nor can we, identify who they are,” Scott said.
The wreck led to the closure of Highway 20 from Nevada City to Interstate 80. Authorities said Wednesday afternoon the road could remain closed until today.
Passerby Steve Corso said he was one of the first people on the scene of the wreck. He saw the tanker overturned and a large fire.
“I had to back off because stuff started exploding,” he said. “It looks like a lot of oil is burning.”
Several agencies responded to the scene, near Highway 20’s intersection with Interstate 80. The crash led PG&E to cut water flows into the Drum Canal and shut down the Drum powerhouse, said Brandi Merlo, spokesperson for the utility.
“At this time there’s no indication that any fuel or oil spilled into the Drum Canal,” Merlo said. “But we’re going to monitor the situation.”
Susan Lauer, communications specialist with the Nevada Irrigation District, emphasized that Grass Valley, Nevada City and the Scotts Flat Lake area are served by the South Yuba Canal.
“This area is unaffected by the accident or any potential spill,” she said.