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UPDATED: Truck Catches Fire on I-5 in San Clemente, One Dies

Two lanes of traffic in both directions have been closed.

One person was killed in an accident on the I-5 near El Camino Real in San Clemente. Photo courtesy of the Orange County Fire Authority.
One person was killed in an accident on the I-5 near El Camino Real in San Clemente. Photo courtesy of the Orange County Fire Authority.
Originally posted at 1:32 p.m. March 20, 2014. Edited to add new information.

UPDATE at 8:50 p.m.: One person was killed today when a flatbed lumber truck and a pickup truck hauling a classic car on a dolly collided on the southbound San Diego (5) Freeway in San Clemente, causing the vehicles to burst into flames.

The deadly crash happened around 1 p.m. just south of the El Camino Real on-ramp, according to Capt. Steve Concialdi of the Orange County Fire Authority.

A 1984 Ford pickup truck carrying a 1950 Oldsmobile on a tow dolly was rear-ended by a flatbed lumber truck with a full load and both trucks erupted in flames, he said.

The driver of the pickup truck, believed to be a man, was trapped and pronounced dead at the scene, while the flatbed driver, who escaped and suffered minor injuries, declined to be taken to a hospital, Concialdi said.

The deceased victim's body wasn't freed from the wreckage until 5:15 p.m., Concialdi said.

The crash closed all southbound lanes and traffic was being diverted at El Camino Real, he said.

Traffic was backed up for miles to at least Camino Las Ramblas in Capistrano Beach, according to the California Highway Patrol.

One lane was reopened around 4:15 p.m. and the rest just before 7 p.m., said a CHP dispatcher.


UPDATE at 2:52 p.m.: One person was killed today when a flatbed lumber truck and a  pickup truck hauling a classic car on a dolly collided on the southbound San Diego (5) Freeway in San Clemente, causing the vehicles to burst into flames.

The deadly crash happened around 1 p.m. on the southbound side of the freeway just south of the El Camino Real onramp, according to Capt. Steve Concialdi of the Orange County Fire Authority.

A 1984 Ford pickup truck carrying a 1950 Oldsmobile on a tow dolly collided with a flatbed lumber truck with a full load and both trucks erupted in flames, he said.

The driver of the pickup truck was trapped and pronounced dead at the scene, while the flatbed driver, who escaped and suffered minor injuries, declined to be taken to a hospital, Concialdi said.

The crash closed all southbound lanes and traffic was being diverted at El Camino Real, he said.

The closure was expected to last for a couple of hours, said CHP Officer Aaron Rothberg.

Traffic was backed up for miles to at least Camino Las Ramblas in Capistrano Beach.

The cause of the collision was under investigation.

Original posts:

The California Highway Patrol has temporarily closed two lanes in each direction on the I-5 Freeway just south of El Camino Real onramp in San Clemente, because of a vehicle fire.

The Orange County Register tweeted that a truck carrying wood caught fire and one person has died. The CHP has confirmed the death.

The call came in at 1 p.m., according to the CHP log. Officers on scene reported the truck "fully engulfed." The SIG alert was called at 1:11 p.m.

At 2:08 p.m., the CHP reported that the southbound backup is 2 miles, while traffic is backing up on the northbound side about a mile.

--City News Service

Patch will have more details as they become available. 

Abby Ferri March 20, 2014 at 04:55 PM
Thanks for reporting! We live nearby and were trying to figure out what happened. We heard the police yell over the bullhorn "driver!" and then something I couldn't understand.
Cathy Chrislip Gronau March 21, 2014 at 12:06 AM
I was in that exact spot at 12:30 PM. Kind of scary to think I missed it by minutes. There are too many big trucks on our freeways, period! The traffic through San Clemente on the 5 is always going WAY too fast. Everyone needs to SLOW DOWN. Even on the surface streets people fly down our streets. I'm just wondering if the lumber truck was going too fast and rear ended the smaller truck who was towing or was it visa versa. In either case; SOMEONE was going too fast.
Douglas Martin March 21, 2014 at 03:54 AM
I am out of town but I know exactly where and why this happened. Just past the El Camino Real OFFRAMP is a sweeping right curve. The #4 lane as it crosses over ECR has a huge defect in the roadway. Most big-rig drivers slow to 40 mph to navigate through the numerous potholes. The roadway dips at the bridge/roadway junction. I saw someone lose their UHaul trailer there last year (the chains held but the trailer rolled). This has been a hazard for many years. While I hate sue-happy people, in this instance I think the family of the deceased has a pretty good case against us, the taxpayers, for allowing CalTrans to ignore the obvious danger there.
Brian Bingham March 21, 2014 at 11:29 AM
bet the guy towing the olds on that janky auto dolly got squirrely in #4 and crossed in front of the lumber truck; that then drove the poor guy into the center divide. Looks like either the collapse of the cab area from impact with the divider or material loaded in the bed of the truck could have contributed to the lethality of this collision. I hope the prior commenter is not taken lightly, it appears as though a ton of weakness has been identified regardless of any investigational products.

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