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Firefighters on 60 Freeway keep blasting water at big rig's tanks

November 14, 2013|By Robert J. Lopez
  • Firefighters blast huge amounts of water at the tanks of a big rig whose cab burst into flames on the 60 Freeway in Hacienda Heights.
Firefighters blast huge amounts of water at the tanks of a big rig whose cab… (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles…)

Firefighters on the 60 Freeway in Hacienda Heights were pouring tens of thousands of gallons of water on big-rig tanks filled with compressed hydrogen.

The cab of the rig burst into flames shortly before 3 p.m., leading officials to shut down all lanes in both directions of the busy freeway. The resulting traffic nightmare continued into the evening.

Los Angeles County Fire Inspector Anthony Akins said that to keep the tanks cool, firefighters were blasting them with large hoses and nozzles that spray 2,000 gallons of water a minute.

The fire in the cab was knocked down, but the hydrogen in the tanks was burning off through an emergency relief valve.

"The threat of explosion is reduced when the valve works properly," Akins said.

The California Highway Patrol sad the tanks initially contained about 1500 pounds of compressed hydrogen. The Fire Department said it was unclear how long it would take for that fuel to burn off.

The woman who was driving the big rig was not injured, the CHP said. 

The CHP said that the freeway would be closed until at least around 8 or 9 p.m.

Eastbound traffic was being diverted to the 605 Freeway, and westbound vehicles were being diverted at Azusa Avenue. The freeway is one of the main arteries connecting Los Angeles to the San Gabriel Valley and Inland Empire.

Vehicles were flooding area streets, including 7th and Gale avenues, the CHP said. The 210 and 10 freeways, which also run east and west across the San Gabriel Valley, were jammed with traffic.


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