Flames, chaos following I-80 tow truck chase past Oakland

Traffic moves along Interstate 80 on Feb. 16, 2022, in Berkeley, Calif.

Traffic moves along Interstate 80 on Feb. 16, 2022, in Berkeley, Calif.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

A wild two-county chase on Interstate 80 that started with an allegedly stolen tow truck ended in flames Thursday morning, officials said.  

The chaos began when a tow truck that had been reported stolen was spotted at about 9:30 a.m. near San Pablo Avenue in Emeryville, California Highway Patrol Officer Jason Tyhurst told SFGATE. But when CHP officers pursued the vehicle, the driver sped up to 85 miles per hour, Tyhurst said, leading to an hourlong chase from Alameda County to Solano County that forced officers to get creative. 

As the driver approached Solano County, officers deployed spike strips — also known as spike devils — to deflate the tow truck’s tires. Shortly after that, Tyhurst said, the truck caught on fire.

“As you well know,” he explained, “rubber gets hot.”

At about 10:30 a.m., the alleged driver, a 37-year-old man, was arrested, online records show. He is being held in Solano County Jail on suspicion of reckless driving, possession of a stolen vehicle, vandalism and evading the police, among other charges. His bail is set at $75,000.

According to Tyhurst, instances like this aren’t all that unusual in the Bay Area. 

“Big rigs get stolen, school buses get stolen,” he said over the phone. “If somebody can drive it and if somebody leaves it running, they can get stolen.”

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