Hwy. 17 Open Following Nitrogen Truck Fire

The Santa Cruz Mountains thoroughfare was closed for several hours late Wednesday and early Thursday.

Highway 17 is open Thursday morning, following a multi-hour shutdown caused when a tractor-trailer hauling nitrogen caught fire on the Santa Clara County side of the mountain road, the California Highway Patrol reported.

of the winding road between San Jose and Santa Cruz. It closed the highway in both directions Wednesday night.

The big-rig involved was a nitrogen tanker truck that caught fire near Redwood Estates, according to the CHP traffic incident report posted online. The flames spread to a nearby hillside, igniting a half-acre grass fire.

Fire crews responding to the tractor-trailer fire said residents who live in the Redwood Estates community in Los Gatos did not have to be evacuated and no injuries were reported.

California Highway Patrol announced the highway would be closed in both directions at 10:36 p.m. Traffic was rerouted on Bear Creek Road and Summit Road to avoid the fire.

The northbound lanes reopened around 1:30 a.m. Thursday; the southbound lanes were cleared for traffic by 5:45 a.m.

There was no information immediately available about what caused the crash.

—Bay City News contributed to this report

Alex Gordon September 06, 2012 at 06:10 PM
I was the driver behind the Nitrogen Tanker Truck just east 1/8 of a mile before the bridge where I usually turn off right to get to my street, in Soquel, Santa Cruz County. The Truck I was behind caught fire due to overheating while trying to navigate up the steep slope of the hill, before the Summit where it descends into Santa Cruz. The driver calmly handled the extreme situation not stoping under the Grove of Trees, directly overhead, Placing his truck in the middle, so not to cause a Massive Wildfire. The Cab Blew as Joe walked up the hill away from the Truck as explosions continued. It took over 30 minutes before any Fire Trucks came on the scene and I did not see a Highway Patrol Cruiser for up to a hour after the fire started. The Tires all started to Explode as the Fire Continued. After about 30 minutes about 15 to 20 Firetrucks came to the scene. To my knowledge the Nitrogen Aluminum, Tanker Trucks Cargo did not Blow as the Firefighters came right up to the Truck with their hoses spraying the Trees on the hillside to extinguish the Fire going up the Hillside. I was with Joel, the driver, West of the Burning Blaze as Firefighters came on the Scene. The Highway Patrol are on each side of the Traffic Lanes Directing Traffic, With Road Blocks. The Two News Crews, 5 and 7, with Helicopters Overhead, now around 11 p.m. The Incident started around 9:45 p.m. Now waiting for a Big Company Tow Truck, to Clear Traffic. I left at 12:30 with the Fire Still in Progress, Alex.
Jennifer Squires September 06, 2012 at 06:14 PM
Thanks for the recap, Alex! Great details. Did you happen to take any photos while you were there? I'd love to see what this looked like.
Alex Gordon September 06, 2012 at 11:14 PM
I was standing with the Driver Joel, Talking to Him, While I took out a Disposable Camera and took 24 Photos from Start to Until the Highway Patrol Came at About 12:30 a.m. I left the Fire Scene to Make it Home While the Highway Patrol Interviewed Joel , the Cool Headed Driver of the Tanker Truck and all the Firefighters who Probably Stayed Until the Early Morning. The Highway Patrol had Roadblocks, both Directions Turning Drivers Away to Alternate Routes. The main Worry I heard the Fire Commander Say Was Where the Tow Truck Was Coming From, and What Time Was He Going to Arrive, and How They Were Going to Tow a Truck That Had no Kennworth Cab Left. Also the Tires Were Blown From the Heat. The Tow Truck was On Route From Vacaville, Ca., Approximately 3 Hours Away. I Was So Worried About a Massive Forest Fire That Could Have Started From This Truck. Back-Up Firefighters with Trucks from Saratoga Were On the Land Owners Ranch. I Talked to the Ranch Land Owner, and He Was Concerned for All Of His Horses and Livestock. We Became Friends, and the Reason I Left to Go to San Jose from Soquel, was to get Red Worms For My Compost Bed. I Could Not Find Any. Turns Out, He Said I Can Pick Them All Up From His Ranch. As For the Film I Will Give You the Roll of 24. Thank God For All the Firefighters and Police including the Truck Driver Joel, Everyone kept their Cool ! I Can Take the Roll Down to Get Developed, Or Bring the Roll to You, Sincerely, Alex...


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