Bear falls on deputy’s car, triggering a crash and wildfire, California officials say

Northern California firefighters put out a fire along Highway 96 near Weitchpec last weekend — but it wasn’t until now that officials revealed the surprising cause.

A bear fell on a Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office patrol car as a deputy was heading north on the highway on Saturday, triggering a crash into an embankment that sparked a fire, Caltrans District 1 said in a Facebook post on Wednesday.

The deputy survived the crash and got out of the car without serious injury, according to Caltrans.

“Don’t worry, the bear also fled the scene,” Caltrans said.

The Sheriff’s Office said the deputy was responding to a reported overdose in Orleans on Aug. 3 around 11 p.m. when the bear struck the car and triggered the rollover, KRCR reported.

The chief of the Hoopa Fire Department said the fire burned roughly half an acre but was extinguished, though crews had to remain at the crash site until Sunday morning because of rolling rock and other issues, according to the TV station.

The crash was about “2 miles south of the Klamath River Bridge,” Lost Coast Outpost reported.

Caltrans reminded travelers to “stay alert while exploring the beautiful highways and nature of (the area.) Bears, elk and deer are just some of the critters sharing our coastal home.”

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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.