What a mess it was Friday evening in southeast Fresno at the intersection of Jensen and Peach Avenues in southeast Fresno. A volunteer fire department's water truck smashed into two vehicles causing the truck to flip on its roof.
“I'm just surprised no one lost their lives today,” said Battalion Chief Tony Escobedo of the Fresno Fire Dept.
Investigators say the truck belongs to Mountain Valley Fire, a volunteer department near Kings Canyon National Park. The driver was responding with lights and sirens to a fire near Reedley.
“At approximately 35 to 50 miles an hour,” said C.H.P. Sgt. Patrick Etchebarne.
C.H.P. says the firefighter went through a red light and broadsided B.M.W.
Michael Etchison was working in his front yard at the time.
“I heard the bam and looked back just in time to see it flip up and we just started running. We thought people were hurt,” said Michael Etchison, a witness.
The 30,000 lb. truck slid upside down and came to a rest after striking a white SUV.
“A very dangerous collision. We're fortunate right now it had minor to moderate injuries,” said Sgt. Etchebarne.
Emergency responders are trained to be cautious at intersections.
“If it's red you need to come to a complete stop, even with lights and sirens,” said Escobedo.
Battalion Chief Tony Escobedo says responders can't take it for granted that other drivers see them.
“Some folks are older and don't hear you. They're younger and inexperienced, they pull left instead of right,” said Escobedo.
The wreck hampers the small department and the community it protects.
“This is one of the major apparatus that we have for supplying water for a fire,” said Kevin Eaker, volunteer with Mountain Valley Fire.
Mountain Valley now hopes its insurance company will step up because the department does not have the money to fix it.
“All of our money comes from donations from the community. We receive no government funding, so this water tender was basically bought by the community,” said Eaker.
This is still an ongoing investigation, but it may end with the volunteer firefighter facing civil and/or criminal charges.
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