Fierce Santa Ana winds knock over 18-wheelers on California highway, photos show

The powerful winds driving the spread of California wildfires are so ferocious that gusts have also toppled multiple 18-wheel trucks on stretches of highway in San Bernardino County, according to authorities.

The San Bernardino County Fire Department said multiple semis overturned on the north and south lanes of the 15 Freeway in Southern California Wednesday, with at least one injury reported and “significant delays” expected on the highway.

“The lanes are expected to be blocked for several hours,” California Highway Patrol officers said on Twitter. “Traffic is backed up to Kenwood Ave.”

Fire Department spokesman Jimmy Schiller said three 18-wheelers toppled over near the Sierra Avenue exit of the highway in Fontana around 9:30 a.m., the San Bernardino Sun reported.

“They were literally 100 yards apart from each other,” Schiller said, according to the newspaper.

A California Highway Patrol incident log showed that a fourth big rig fell over “at Glen Helen Parkway in the San Bernardino area,” KTLA reported.

The National Weather Service office in Los Angeles warned on Wednesday morning that the “Santa Ana Winds are ratcheting up, with gusts in the 70s over 1000 ft. We are seeing strong winds at lower elevations too.”

CHP said that “crews worked to move the semi-trucks to the side of the road, as it is too windy to attempt to upright them,” according to KTLA.

A CHP officer told NBC in video posted on Twitter that the Santa Ana winds in the area were reaching around 65 miles per hour, and that the semis that tipped over were empty.

CHP said winds were involved in other collisions on the 210 Freeway on Wednesday, the Fontana Herald News reported.

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Jared Gilmour is a McClatchy national reporter based in San Francisco. He covers everything from health and science to politics and crime. He studied journalism at Northwestern University and grew up in North Dakota.