Two people were killed when a fuel tanker truck collided with another vehicle and burst into flames on the 105 Freeway in Hawthorne Friday morning, prompting officials to close the freeway in both directions.
The westbound lanes — a key route to Los Angeles International Airport — were closed more than 14 hours before reopening around 8 p.m., while the eastbound side had opened within a few hours of the incident.
The Metro Green Line train was also disrupted through the area because the fire burned next to tracks that run down the center of the freeway.
The crash occurred about 5:15 a.m. on the westbound side of the freeway near Crenshaw Boulevard, according to the CHP’s traffic incident log.
The fuel tanker and a Range Rover SUV were involved in a collision and ended up in the center divider, the CHP stated. At some point, the tanker truck burst into flames, creating a fireball in westbound 105 lanes.
The driver of each vehicle had died at the scene, CHP Capt. Doug Young said. Their identities were not immediately released.
More than 12 hours after the crash, around 6:30 p.m., Robinson said CHP officials were still working on identifying the victims.
No other injuries were reported in the crash, however, investigators still need to inspect the vehicles for any other possible victims, Los Angeles County Fire Department Inspector Joey Marron said.
A witness — an Uber driver named Hisaki Shimidu — told KTLA a silver Range Rover was speeding and swerving in and out of lanes when the driver lost control and crashed into the center divider.
“Once you lose control, you can’t do anything about it,” Shimidu said. “It was a like, almost, a Hollywood movie, but it’s real, and it’s a real accident. I couldn’t believe it. We are very fortunate that we survived.”
CHP was investigating and had no information on what led to the crash, which caused a blaze that was visible for miles, Young said.
Young specifically said he could not confirm reports of the Range Rover speeding.
One of the truck’s two tankers was ablaze when firefighters arrived, and the flames were allowed to burn off to reduce explosive hazards, fire Capt. Brian Jordan said. The two tankers carry 4,500 gallons of gasoline each, Jordan said.
The decision to allow the tanker to burn came after officials determined no one else inside the vehicles could have possibly survived, Marron said.
Just after 6 p.m., a hazmat team that was cleaning up the tanker’s gas spills indicated “everything was good to go,” Robinson said. He also said the incident’s left CHP with a “complex investigation” as they are still working to find out the cause of the deadly crash.
Metro was offering bus service between Hawthorne/Lennox and the Vermont/Athens Green Line stations during the service disruption. By Saturday morning, all train service had resumed, according to Metro’s website.
— LA Metro (@metrolosangeles) August 24, 2018