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3 killed in fiery California crash during high-speed pursuit

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Posted at 3:55 PM, Mar 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-21 18:55:55-04

FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — Three people were killed in a fiery crash when a motorist fleeing a sheriff’s deputy at around 100 mph (160 kph) collided with multiple cars in central California, authorities said.

The driver of a black Chevy Camaro sped away after the Fresno County deputy tried to pull him over for reckless driving late Saturday.

When the suspect exited State Route 41, the deputy backed off the chase over safety concerns after the Camaro fishtailed and ran a red light near downtown Fresno, police said.

The violent collisions happened moments later, with at least seven vehicles involved in the deadly crash, and five ending up engulfed in flames, the Fresno Bee reported.

Video footage of the scene showed emergency crews scrambling to pull people from burning cars as the fire intensified, according to the newspaper.

Police identified Francisco Portillo of Fresno as the driver of the Camaro. Portillo and his girlfriend, who was in the car, were hospitalized in critical but stable condition, officials said.

Fresno Police Lt. Israel Reyes said Portillo, 20, could face charges including vehicular manslaughter. It wasn’t known Sunday if Portillo has an attorney.

Reyes said the three people killed were all believed to be adults, but identifications were not immediately available.