SANTA ROSA (CBS SF) – A horrific 10-vehicle crash left six vehicles ablaze on a Santa Rosa street Monday morning and sent seven people to the hospital, three of them in critical condition, authorities said.
REDCOM Sonoma County Fire and Emergency Dispatch Center said the 9:25 a.m. crash shut down streets in the area of Mendocino Avenue and Fountaingrove Parkway in north Santa Rosa.
Witnesses said the truck -- which was full of fire debris from the destructive October wildfires -- went out of control traveling westbound on Fountaingrove.
"'Help!' I was crying. And people started coming out," said witness Larry Broderick.
Broderick was on his way to work when he saw the truck barreling down Fountaingrove Parkway.
"I hear a 'Honk! Honk! Honk!' and I look and there is a truck coming down and it's a red light. And I'm like, 'Uh oh, provably lost brakes.' I didn't think much of it. And the half a second later I hear 'Boom!'"
He said the dump truck slammed into cars stopped in traffic along the Mendocino Avenue overpass.
"It hit the white truck and spun around and continued, 'Boom! Boom! Boom!'" said Broderick. "And instantaneously there was a trail of flames."
Broderick helped rescue people stuck in burning vehicles.
"Then we worked on getting these two people out of cars. They were trapped," said Broderick.
"First responders did a good job getting people out of their cars, as well as citizens that were already at the scene... We had a total of seven injuries, three are considered to be serious," said Santa Rosa police Lt. Ryan Corcoran.
Authorities said of the 10 vehicles involved in the crash, six caught fire and burned. Drivers and passengers were either able to exit their burning vehicles or were rescued by police and firefighters.
The Santa Rosa Fire Department also tweeted out several pictures of destruction at the crash scene.
The crash debris spanned about 250 feet down the street, with the charred wreckage of three vans and a pickup in one area and the dump truck and another pickup destroyed by fire about 100 feet west of that, Santa Rosa fire Battalion Chief Mark Basque told the Santa Rosa Press Democrat.
A Windsor man caught in the crash was stopped in traffic at the intersection.
"The guy was really truckin' — he looked like he might have lost control," Chris, who was headed for work at nearby Kaiser Medical Center, told the paper.
At 3 p.m., Santa Rosa police announced that Mendocino Avenue and Fountaingrove Parkway had reopened, but the overcrossing remained closed.
As of about 5 p.m., the dump truck was still at the scene with investigators inspecting the vehicle.
Authorities said it was too early to say whether the accident had been caused by a break problem with the truck.
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