SAN PABLO (CBS SF) — A truck carrying hundreds of live chickens crashed and erupted into a fireball early Thursday, shutting down westbound Highway 80 at San Pablo Dam Road for over eight hours, according to the CHP.

The CHP said the collision was first reported at 3:42 a.m. and forced the closure of the busy freeway heading toward San Francisco.

“We got a call of vehicle fire, it was fully engulfed, our officers arrived and discovered a truck tractor combination that was carrying live chickens,” said CHP Sgt. Curtis Glace. “It had swerved over to the right, struck the side of the concrete over-crossing…It had live chickens it had lost in the roadway .. Some of those chickens were running all over the freeway.”

Contra Costa County Fire Protection District spokesman Steve Hill said crews arrived at the scene at 3:55 a.m. to find the big rig hauling the poultry to a processing plant fully engulfed in flames and “chickens everywhere” throughout the collision scene.

 

The driver was taken to the hospital with minor injuries.

The crash left charred debris and chickens scattered all over the freeway. Once firefighters extinguished the flames, they began to round up chickens that were scattered near the crash scene. Animal control officials and Richmond firefighters were brought in to help remove the birds from the scene.

As of 6:45 a.m., crews continued to gather the birds. An officer told KPIX 5 reporter Jackie Ward that he estimated that 1,000 birds were being carried on the big-rig.

Caltrans engineers were called to the scene to examine the damaged over-pass, Glace said.

“There’s a chunk of it (the overpass) to the side,” he said.

CHP Officer Kris Borer said officers on scene have estimated there were about 1,000 chickens on the truck.

“We don’t get these crashes very often,” he said. “It’s definitely very, very messy.”

Crews have worked to clean up the dead chickens, catch the live ones and get the truck back upright, Borer said. While he estimated the highway could be closed until at least 1 p.m., officials announced that all lanes had reopened shortly before 12 p.m.

The crash has caused traffic headaches around the East Bay, with motorists on westbound Highway 80 being diverted off at the San Pablo Dam Road off-ramp and back on at the on-ramp. Others have taken southbound Interstate Highway 680 to westbound state Highway 24.

Glace said investigators did not think that drugs or alcohol played a factor in the crash.

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