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Here’s why you should avoid 99 South today in Merced

Crews work to clean up the scene of a tractor trailer which crashed and caught fire in the southbound lanes of Highway 99 at the O Street overpass in Merced, Calif., on Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018. According to the California Highway Patrol, the driver escaped with minor injuries and the cause of the crash is under investigation.
Crews work to clean up the scene of a tractor trailer which crashed and caught fire in the southbound lanes of Highway 99 at the O Street overpass in Merced, Calif., on Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018. According to the California Highway Patrol, the driver escaped with minor injuries and the cause of the crash is under investigation. akuhn@mercedsun-star.com

Wet road conditions Saturday contributed to a big rig crash that resulted in the truck catching fire and closing one lane of traffic for about the next eight hours, according to California Highway Patrol.

A 2016 International big rig pulling a trailer full of car parts was traveling about 60 mph in the right southbound lane of Highway 99 shortly after 8 a.m. when for unknown reasons it swerved left, colliding with the guard rail in the center median, CHP Merced Officer Eric Zuniga said.

"He was obviously going a little too fast for road conditions," Zuniga said.

The truck caught on fire and the driver, 42-year-old Mario Garcia-Pina out of Cantua Creek, escaped, Zuniga said. The truck completely burned out and the trailer partially burned.

Garcia-Pina complained of pain to his left wrist and declined medical transport to a hospital, Zuniga said.

The collision site is considered a hazmat site. But it's contained.

"There is no danger to the public," Zuniga said.

The cleanup and repair of the guard rail has closed the left lane of southbound Highway 99 for about eight hours, Zuniga said, with the lane expected to open at about 7 p.m.

Merced police also were assisting CHP by regulating traffic on O Street under the overpass.

There were no arrests or citations and authorities don't believe alcohol or drugs to be factors in the collision, Zuniga said.

CHP is urging motorists on Highway 99 to seek alternate routes Saturday.

The crash remained under investigation Saturday.

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