ELYSIAN VALLEY, Calif. (KTLA) – Some 8,500 gallons of gasoline poured out of a tanker truck Saturday, erupting into powerful flames and shutting down a busy Los Angles freeway.
At about 10:30 a.m. the driver of the fuel truck blew a tire, lost control and crashed inside the busy tunnel at the interchange of the 2 and 5 freeways, officials said. A fire soon broke out, fed by the tanker’s thousands of gallons of gasoline.
“In my 24 years, I’ve never seen damage to that extent,” Los Angels Fire Department Capt. Alicia Mathis said, describing the remnants of the burned tanker truck.
The overwhelming heat from the fire vaporized the vehicle, metal frame and all.
Traffic in the area was brought to a halt on the northbound side of Interstate 5.
Much of the gasoline rushed into the Los Angeles River and sewer drains, sparking other fires to break out, according to fire officials.
“Some of those gasses were able to increase in those closed areas and start to explode,” LAFD Information Officer Brian Humphrey said.
“Then in addition to that, some of the gasoline that went into the L.A. River was ignited and was burning,” Mathis said. “At the start of this incident we had three different, dynamic fires burning. ”
Hours later, firefighters were still pouring water onto smoldering ashes.
No one was hurt in the crash, fire officials said.
The flames burned so hot, the road pavement appeared to melt. Officials were concerned about possible damage done to the Interstate 5 bridge. It will be closed until engineers can determine how badly the structure was hurt by the intense flames.
“Once they make that determination they will have a better idea how long the repairs will take,” Capt. Mathis said.