SIMI VALLEY — A two-vehicle collision on the Simi Valley Freeway east of Simi Valley at the beginning of the Monday evening rush hour left two men injured, one critically, caused a small brush fire and tied up traffic for miles, authorities said.
The wreck occurred in the eastbound lanes when a sport utility vehicle and a car collided west of Rocky Peak Fire Road just past the Ventura County line.
The sport utility vehicle crashed into the center divider, but the car carrying the two men plummeted more than 30 feet down a steep embankment, ejecting the occupants and touching off the brush fire, said Capt. Ed Ho of the Ventura County Fire Department.
Winds gusting up to 30 mph sent flames down the steep hill out of control for about an hour.
The fire consumed more than five acres of brush in rocky terrain before more than 100 firefighters from Ventura and Los Angeles counties--using about a dozen engines and five helicopters--could control the blaze, said Marnie Swindle, a spokeswoman for the Ventura County Fire Department.
The freeway's eastbound lanes were shut briefly after the 4:20 p.m. crash so that a Ventura County Sheriff's Department helicopter could airlift the critically injured man, who had life-threatening head injuries, to Simi Valley Hospital. The unidentified man was later transferred to Northridge Hospital Medical Center.
The other man, also unidentified by authorities, was treated for minor injuries at Simi Valley Hospital.
The crash caused eastbound traffic to back up at least four miles.