Overheated brakes cause big-rig fire

A big-rig fire on the southbound Golden State (5) Freeway on Monday was caused by overheated brakes, according to the California Highway Patrol. (Tim Berger / Glendale News Press / April 28, 2014)

The driver of a big-rig that caught fire on the southbound Golden State (5) Freeway Monday afternoon — temporarily shutting down four freeway lanes and causing traffic delays — was arrested after the incident on suspicion of drunk driving, authorities said.

The man, identified as 48-year-old Samuel Garcia of Northridge, was driving the empty truck on the freeway when witnesses called authorities to report that he was driving slow and not staying in his lane, said Sgt. Becky Lynch of the California Highway Patrol.

Officers reportedly attempted to pull him over, but he initially would not stop.

During the pursuit, authorities noticed smoke coming from the tires under the trailer as Garcia reached Hollywood Way on the 5 Freeway in Burbank, at which point officers pulled their patrol car up in front of the truck to get him to stop. A SigAlert was issued just before 1 p.m. Monday.

“His trailer brakes were locked,” Lynch said. “He was driving down basically dragging the trailer, which is why his tires heated up and ultimately caught fire.”

As officers removed the driver from the truck, the flames began to pick up. Los Angeles firefighters responded to the scene to extinguish the fire.

Authorities did not know whether Garcia was driving to or from work.

“He was fairly nonresponsive,” Lynch said.

He was transported to the hospital as a precaution, Lynch added.

No injuries were reported.

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Follow Alene Tchekmedyian on Google+ and on Twitter: @atchek.

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