Bees, Rotting Chicken Cause Wildfire
A fire near San Diego's Wild Animal Park closed part of Route 78. The cause of the fire? The driver of a truck full of rotting chicken was reportedly attacked by a swarm of bees, causing him to crash the truck, which started a grass fire (and spread decaying meat all over the scene). Why does nature hate us so?
NORTH COUNTY – A swarm of bees and an overturned rendering truck filled with rotting chicken sparked a wildfire Monday four miles east of the San Diego Wild Animal Park near Escondido.
Authorities closed a stretch of state Route 78 between Bandy Canyon and Haverford roads while crews battled the blaze, which started at about 3:40 p.m. and burned across 40 acres by 6 p.m.
It was unclear Monday when the section of highway would reopen.
The fire was south of Route 78, about a half-mile east of San Pasqual Academy.
Authorities said the blaze had less fuel to grow because it occurred in an area where other fires had burned in recent years. By just after 6 p.m., the rate of spread had stopped, and there was no threat to structures, Cal Fire officials said.
The rendering truck was headed east on Route 78 toward Ramona, San Diego Police Officer Mike Goff said. The driver told investigators that a swarm of bees entered the truck's cab, causing him to swerve and hit a large boulder.
No other vehicle was involved in the crash. The accident occurred near a steep embankment, igniting the grass nearby. A passerby picked up the driver, who was taken to Palomar Medical Center with minor injuries.
Along with chicken carcasses, other rotting meat from the truck was strewn about the highway, creating a foul odor near the scene. The road was scattered with packages of sausage, hot dogs, crabs – all rotting quickly in the heat.
Several agencies responded to the blaze, including Cal Fire, the U.S. Forest Service, the San Diego and Poway fire departments and the San Pasqual Volunteer Fire Department.
Cal Fire said at one point Monday that 125 firefighters were on the scene. The response involved bringing in at least four airtankers, four helicopters, and 15 fire engines.
The fire was slowed by the airtankers. The San Diego Fire Department was expected to remain on the scene overnight.