Mike Wilbur

SAC METRO ENGINE COMPANY STOLEN – LEADS POLICE IN PURSUIT

A police chase across four counties Saturday ended above Lake Oroville after a Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District fire truck was stolen and taken on a pursuit that lasted about 85 miles.

The truck was stolen at the scene of a grass fire in Rio Linda nearly two hours before the stop, and sped through Sacramento, Placer, Yuba and Butte counties, reaching speeds of 70 mph and, at times, traveling in the direction of oncoming traffic, according to several law enforcement officials.

The truck was chased by the California Highway Patrol and several other agencies before it was stopped on Highway 70 just north of Lake Oroville. The CHP said that two suspects, a man and woman, were arrested when the vehicle came to a stop. No other details about the suspects were available.

“It’s the first time it’s happened to us,” said Metro Fire spokesman Capt. Chris Vestal, who said the truck would need to be hauled back for extensive work by the department’s fleet crews.

“It’s got some obvious damage to the front axle area, and it will have to be assessed,” Vestal said. “That will take some time.”

Vestal said that the truck is worth $1 million fully outfitted, but no damage was believed to have been done to the equipment inside.

Photographs of the vehicle posted to social media showed the fire truck sustained damage, including a front wheel that was down to its rim.

“It wouldn’t be going into service until extensive work is made.”

Vestal did say that the firefighters of Station 111 in Rio Linda would not be without equipment, as the department’s fleet and maintenance staff quickly brought in a reserve engine for service calls.

The fire truck was taken about 4 p.m. as crews had fought a 12-acre fire near Elkhorn Boulevard and Cherry Lane in Rio Linda, said Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Sgt. Shaun Hampton.

Deputies were the first to pursue the truck on surface streets in northern Sacramento County and the city of Antelope before it moved onto Highway 65 in Placer County. While taking command of the chase, and out of concern for other drivers’ safety, Placer County Sheriff’s deputies at one point decided to pull back in the pursuit along Highway 65 as the fire truck drove counter to traffic.

When the truck entered Yuba County, the California Highway Patrol took over the chase, Vestal said. Multiple local agencies assisted in the chase along the way as the vehicle raced north, sometimes using off-ramps along the way. Officials made several attempts to stop the vehicle using spike strips as it rolled through the cities of Wheatland, Marysville and Oroville before being stopped on the 11800 block of Highway 70.

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