Tanker truck fire, chemical leak prompts hazmat response in Cloverdale

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A tanker truck hauling 4,800  gallons of a chlorine-based chemical began leaking Wednesday morning after the vehicle caught fire in Cloverdale, prompting a response from Sonoma County’s hazardous materials team.

The leak led to the hourslong closure of a lane of traffic on northbound Highway 101, as well as the adjacent South Cloverdale Boulevard offramp, where the tanker came to a stop about 6:20 a.m. after the driver realized there was an issue with the vehicle, said CHP Officer David deRutte.

The issue, smoke coming from the back-end of the tanker, developed into a fire and led to a call to Cloverdale firefighters, said Healdsburg Fire Chief Jason Boaz, who also responded to the vehicle fire.

“(The tanker truck) appeared to have a fire that started on the rear axle but we’re not sure how or why,” Boaz said. “It somehow damaged the tank.”

The Cloverdale crews put out the blaze in minutes but then realized there was a leak coming from the bottom of the tanker. It was hauling sodium hypochlorite, a chemical often used for water disinfection.

Sonoma County’s hazmat unit was called to the leak about 7:09 a.m. and CHP officers shut down the offramp and the nearby freeway lane minutes later.

Caltrans crews brought in dirt, which the hazmat team used to mold a dam to divert the runoff away from nearby storm drains, said Sonoma County Fire Marshall James Williams, who oversees the team.

He estimated the liquid spilled from the vehicle at about a half a gallon per minute.

About 400 gallons of sodium hypochlorite spilled from the full tanker truck, Boaz said.

The remaining sodium hypochlorite was transferred to another vehicle, he said.

The offramp and the right lane of the freeway were reopened about 3:45 p.m. after crews mopped up the remnants of the spill, deRutte said.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife also responded to the spill.

You can reach Staff Writer Nashelly Chavez at 707-521-5203 or

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