A driver fleeing Alameda County sheriff's deputies who had stopped him for a traffic violation in East Oakland early Thursday crashed into some gas pumps at a gasoline station, causing a two-alarm fire and forcing the evacuation of nearby residents, authorities said.
One of the deputies in the pursuit rescued the trapped driver from the BMW SUV after it crashed and caught fire, authorities said.
He was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence and taken to a hospital with a broken leg. A passenger in the vehicle was not injured and was questioned and released.
Sheriff's Sgt. J.D. Nelson said two deputies working the Avoid the 21 DUI enforcement program stopped the BMW about 2:20 a.m. at the intersection of 98th Avenue and D Street on a traffic violation. Nelson was not sure what the violation was.
As the deputies approached the vehicle, the driver sped off southbound on 98th Avenue toward Interstate 880. The deputies had barely gotten back into their car to pursue the BMW when it crashed at a 76 gas station at 98th and Edes avenues, about a half-mile away, causing the pumps to catch fire.
Battalion Fire Chief Eleanor Bolin-Chew said safety systems at the station worked promptly to shut off the pumps and firefighters used a mostly foam mix to control what fire there was.
At least 35 firefighters controlled the fire at 6:04 a.m. and some remained on the scene hours later to make sure there were no flare-ups and to oversee cleanup. No firefighters were injured but the suspected drunken driver was taken to a hospital.
About 20 residents of a nearby apartment complex were evacuated to a school as a precaution and streets in the area were temporarily shut down.
Authorities said an environmental cleanup company was called to remove the foam residue as well as the damaged pumps and fuel spillage. The station was expected to be closed for at least Thursday and possibly longer. A damage figure was not immediately available.
Written by Harry Harris