Highway 49 temporarily closed Wednesday as logging truck crashes, spills load near Oakhurst

Sierra Star

Traffic on Highway 49 was completely stopped for more than an hour Wednesday after a logging truck came around a turn shortly south of Harmony Lane towards Oakhurst, crashed into an embankment, and spilled its load of wood and gallons of diesel across the roadway.

The highway was reopened to one-lane traffic around 4:15 p.m.., CHP Officer Brian Cullen said. He estimated it would take until at least 5:30 p.m. to completely clear the truck from the roadway and reopen both lanes.

Cullen said the truck, from company J.W. Bamford of Oroville, was headed southbound towards Oakhurst around 3 p.m..

When the driver came around the turn, he heard something snap, Cullen said, causing his load of logs to shift to one side. The driver attempted to steer into the load to save it as it began to tilt, Cullen said, which caused the truck to slam into the embankment on Highway 49’s southbound side.

Some logs and the truck itself were thrown across part of the highway, but were cleared by a second truck from the Bamford company that quickly arrived to the area. The second Bamford truck also lifted the crashed big rig onto the southbound side of the highway so traffic - backed up for miles in each direction - could be allowed to pass through.

Caltrans was called in to assess the scene, and initially determined no HAZMAT crews were needed for the spilled diesel.

No narcotics or alcohol were suspected in the crash, Cullen said. No injuries were reported.

Cullen said as the damaged truck is towed, or as the diesel is cleaned up, both lanes of the highway may be closed for a short period.

The cause of the crash remains under investigation.