ENCINITAS — A semi truck driver suffered minor injuries this morning when his big rig carrying boxes of strawberries caught fire on Interstate 5 in Encinitas, authorities said.
Dispatchers received a call around 5:30 a.m. from a person who reported seeing flames coming from the rear wheels of a semi truck on northbound Interstate 5 just south of Leucadia Boulevard, according to a
California Highway Patrol incident log.
The man driving the semi truck pulled over, got out and went to check on the flames, but one of the rear tires burst and some of the tire pieces hit him in the face, Encinitas Fire Battalion Chief Mike Spaulding said.
The driver, whose age was not immediately available, was taken to a hospital for treatment of minor lacerations to his face, Spaulding said.
When firefighters arrived they found the flames had spread from the rear axle to the middle of the trailer, which contained strawberries in plastic boxes, the battalion chief said.
Crews doused the flames coming from the back of the trailer, but had to remove some of the boxes to access the fire in the middle of the trailer, Spaulding said.
The flames were knocked down by 6 a.m., he said.
CHP officers shut down the right two lanes of northbound I-5 just south of Leucadia Boulevard until 7:10 a.m.
The right two lanes were shut down again at 9:25 a.m. to tow the semi truck off the highway shoulder, CHP Officer Jim Bettencourt said. It was not immediately clear how long the closure would remain in place.
As of 9:50 a.m., traffic on the northbound highway was backed up past Villa De La Valle.
The cause of the fire was under investigation.