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Mudslides, Truck Accidents Close 3 Inland Empire Roads

September 06, 2006|Susannah Rosenblatt | Times Staff Writer

Rain-driven mudslides and big-rig truck accidents over the holiday weekend left three inland roads shut down Tuesday.

A brief, intense storm Monday afternoon created mudslides in about eight spots at the foot of the San Jacinto Mountains, blocking three miles of Soboba Road in San Jacinto, officials said.

The mud, 6 feet deep in some areas, trapped 19 cars Monday but caused no injuries, said Capt. Bret Cerini of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection in Riverside County.

Only one car had to be towed out of the muck.

"We get mudflows in that area whenever we get really heavy rain," Cerini said.

Recent fires that stripped vegetation from the hillsides also contributed to the mudflows, Cerini said.

Authorities permitted residents to travel part of Soboba Road, Cerini said. Crews were expected to complete the cleanup by Thursday afternoon, said Paul Russell, Riverside County highway operations superintendent.

In San Bernardino County, a tanker truck heading up California 18 on Monday overturned, dumping 4,000 gallons of gasoline on the road and nearby forest land, according to a California Highway Patrol spokesman.

Caltrans dug up about 25 feet of road contaminated by the fuel spill -- "a major cleanup," said spokeswoman Terri Kasinga.

Three of the four lanes will be repaved.

Environmental cleanup could take much longer, said CHP Officer Don Walker.

Motorists should expect delays but can travel with an escort on California 330 during peak commuting hours seven days a week while California 18 remains blocked, Kasinga said.

Another tractor trailer blocked California 138 for about three hours Tuesday morning after becoming stuck at a sharp turn, Walker said.

The big-rig was taking California 138, which is not recommended for large vehicles, because of the fuel spill obstructing California 18.

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susannah.rosenblatt@latimes.com

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