Three people died Wednesday evening when two cars collided and one burst into flames, starting a large grass fire.
There were no survivors in the 6 p.m. crash that closed Atkins Road just south of Stampede Road, according to the California Highway Patrol.
The crash apparently happened when Brandon Baker, 29, of Lodi, was driving at a "high rate of speed" south on Atkins Road, lost control off the west side of the road and then over-corrected, said Officer Adrian Quintero, a CHP spokesman.
Baker's brown 1973 Chevrolet El Camino collided with a northbound Volvo, which spun and landed against a fence on the east shoulder, where it burst into flames.
Both Baker and his passenger, a 22-year-old Lockeford man, were thrown from the vehicle. The Volvo's driver was trapped in the vehicle, still wearing a seat belt, Quintero said.
Charles Chatfield, who lives down the road, was one of the first people on scene and, like many in the rural area, recognized the car as Baker's.
"I heard a big 'bam' and then saw a ball of flame," he said, recounting how he told his fiancee to call 911 as he rushed to the scene.
By the time Chatfield arrived, flames had started to spread to dry grass along the shoulder, headed for Baker. Chatfield pulled the unresponsive man away from the flames.
The fire picked up speed, moving east across a large field of grass, eventually consuming what one Clements firefighter estimated as at least 25 acres. Thick brown smoke could be seen from Cherokee Lane in Lodi.
Several ambulances had been sent to the scene, but they all left empty after paramedics pronounced the victims dead.
Residents came to look at the wreckage, gaping at the destroyed El Camino and then gasping when they saw the shell of the burnt Volvo.
Investigators did not have a gender of the Volvo driver, who will be identified by coroner's investigators, Quintero said.
Officials did not release the name of Baker's passenger, pending notification of his family.
Many of those who came to look at the aftermath of the crash knew Baker, whose family has lived in the area for decades and runs a large hay service, where he also worked.
Family members, including his father who identified his body, arrived at the scene and called Baker's fiancee, telling her not to come. However, she arrived around 7:30 p.m. just after two coroner's vans left. Still wearing her uniform and name tag from a Lodi grocery store, she began sobbing and dropped to her knees.
Firefighters stayed at the scene until around 9 p.m., putting out the last of the fire.
Officials believe speed contributed to the crash, and Quintero said the Stockton CHP office gets numerous complaints from residents who live along the county's rural country roads.
Quintero said his office is working on a grant that would provide funding focused solely on speed enforcement, and they will learn by this fall if the grant is authorized.
Wednesday's crash came a day after two people died in unrelated northern San Joaquin County crashes, one of them on rural Woodbridge Road and the other in a dirt field in Flag City.