A man stole a firetruck from an Oakland station Saturday morning and led the CHP on a three-county chase that ended in Vacaville.
The purported firetruck thief, an adult, was arrested but has not been identified by Oakland police, who are handling the investigation.
The truck was taken from the Oakland Fire Department’s Station 23 on Foothill Boulevard in East Oakland shortly after a passerby reported someone suspicious lurking around the station while firefighters were on a call. When Oakland police responded, they spotted the wildlands firetruck, a large pickup truck with a small water tank on the back, driving away.
They tried unsuccessfully to get the driver to pull over and followed as he drove through Oakland. California Highway Patrol officers took over the pursuit on Highway 24 near Claremont Avenue and followed the stolen firetruck as it headed to Interstate 680 through central Contra Costa County and then onto I-80.
“It was a chase but it wasn’t a high-speed chase,” said CHP Officer Chris Borer. “He just kept going with our units behind him, lights and sirens going.” Oakland’s Deputy Fire Chief Nick Luby, said the smaller truck is often used on fire trails and other places where it’s hard to get larger fire engines and trucks. But it isn’t known for speed. “It doesn’t go more than 65, so wasn’t zipping in and out of traffic,” he said. The chase ended after Vacaville police put down spike strips on I-80 at Bella Vista Road.
With the firetruck’s tires deflating, the man pulled off the freeway on the Orange Drive off ramp. His firetruck ride ended when he plowed into a parked car in front of the Black Oak Restaurant. He was arrested by CHP and Oakland police officers about 11:45 a.m. Aside from the shredded tires, the firetruck suffered no apparent damage, Luby said.
“We’re glad to have it back and we’re glad no one was injured,” he said. “In my 20 years, this is the first (firetruck theft) I’m aware of. This was not a normal Saturday for us.”