UPDATE: Car Exiting Highway 101 Crashes, Sparks Grassfire

A driver appeared to have taken a turn too fast while exiting Highway 101 Friday afternoon, according to officials with the California Highway Patrol


A man crashed a 1990 Volvo sedan into a tree and sparked a grassfire while he was exiting northbound Highway 101 at the Manuel T. Freitas Parkway Friday afternoon around 5 p.m. in San Rafael.

The man, the only person in the vehicle, ran away from the car when it caught fire after the crash, according to California Highway Patrol Public Information Officer Andrew Barclay.

San Rafael Fire Chief Chris Gray said the fire burned overgrown grass and shrubs that moved up the hill. “The fire was aided by some dry fuel and a slight breeze,” he said.

The driver was transported to the Marin General Hospital with minor injuries, Barclay said. 

The preliminary investigation indicates that the vehicle excited the off-ramp too fast for the turn and traveled off the road, Barclay said.

Fire crews used the adjacent bus pad to fight the fire and the off-ramp wasn't closed for the incident, Barclay said. 

Gray said north and southbound traffic on Highway 101 was slowed due to onlookers. 

Traffic on northbound Highway 101 appeared backed up to central San Rafael roughly an hour after the accident — which isn’t unusual for the Friday afternoon commute, Barclay said.  

As firefighters were extinguishing the blaze, the wind sent sparks from the fire across the off-ramp and started a small fire onto the hillside near Redwood Highway, according to bystander Brent Ainsworth, the former editor of Novato Patch. 

Another bystander, San Rafael resident Austin Lynch, quickly grabbed a fire extinguisher from his vehicle and put out the second blaze, Ainsworth said. Lynch, 20, said he is studying to be a firefighter. 


Did you see the fire or the crash? Tell us in the Comments.

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Jessica Mullins (Editor) April 20, 2013 at 01:14 AM
This article initially (and incorrectly) said the accident was off southbound 101. We just confirmed with the California Highway Patrol that it was actually off northbound 101. Sorry for any confusion we caused. We regret the error.
Leonard Ginsburg April 20, 2013 at 06:20 PM
A fire extinguisher in your car, what a smart idea. Thank you for quick fire response and helpful citizens. The fire could have been worse. Good job well done.


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