The driver of the truck that crashed and exploded Wednesday near Chowchilla told investigators he made a wrong turn taking the Highway 152 westbound ramp.
The California Highway Patrol said Miko Todorov Mitov, 73, of Las Vegas, told investigators he was driving northbound on Highway 99 and began to turn left onto Highway 152, but he had intended to stay on Highway 99, a CHP report says.
As he entered Highway 152 and started into the left curve, he allowed his tractor-trailer to drift to the north side of the roadway, where it struck a guardrail. The truck scraped along a concrete barrier before overturning on its side, blocking both lanes of westbound Highway 152 traffic.
A fire sparked as Mitov escaped, releasing an unknown amount of a corrosive cleaning solvent and causing a grass fire. CHP officials wouldn’t confirm Mitov’s intended destination.
The Madera County Environmental Health Department confirms that the truck was carrying about 2,500 gallons of what was described as “corrosive cleaning solvents” in two 275-gallon industrial plastic drums and 34 plastic drums that contained 55 gallons each.
Highway 152 westbound was reopened to southbound traffic shortly before 10 a.m. Thursday, 22 hours after the crash.
The highway opening connects westbound Highway 152 from southbound Highway 99, south of Chowchilla. Meanwhile, the westbound ramp to Highway 152 from northbound Highway 99 opened about 1:15 p.m. Thursday.
The truck crashed about 12:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Firefighters urged people living within a half-mile of the crash to remain indoors and avoid breathing potentially toxic fumes from the fire. Some residents closer to the fire were evacuated.