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Caltrans inspecting bridge after big-rig fire on 710 Freeway

October 27, 2013|By Kate Mather
  • A map shows the approximate location of where a big rig caught fire on the 710 Freeway in Commerce.
A map shows the approximate location of where a big rig caught fire on the… (Google Maps )

Part of the 710 Freeway in Commerce remained closed late Sunday afternoon as Caltrans engineers evaluated a bridge where a tanker carrying an estimated 8,000 gallons of crude oil caught fire earlier in the day.

Although the California Highway Patrol said the southbound lanes of the freeway near Washington Boulevard would remain closed until 5 p.m., California Department of Transportation spokesman Patrick Chandler said it was unclear when the roadway would reopen.

The fire damaged railing along the freeway bridge -- the tanker dangled over its edge, stretching down to railroad tracks below -- and leaked fuel in the area, Chandler said. A contractor was being brought in to assess any other potential damage.

The northbound lanes of the freeway opened about 90 minutes after the 9:30 a.m. crash, which CHP Officer Monica Posada said left the driver of the rig "severely burned." The driver's condition was not known Sunday afternoon, Officer Tony Polizzi said.

Thick black smoke billowed into the air as Los Angeles County firefighters worked to douse the burning truck hanging over the edge of the bridge. Area homes were evacuated, and an online CHP log indicated that some vehicles on the road below were also burned.

There were initially conflicting reports about whether one or two trucks were involved, but Posada said it was just one. Later, television footage later showed the rig's charred skeleton still hanging over the side of the overpass.

In July, a tanker carrying 8,500 gallons of gasoline burst into flames in Elysian Valley, weakening the tunnel that connects the northbound 2 Freeway with the northbound 5 Freeway. Chandler said that incident was a "different situation" from Sunday's and thus hard to compare. 

An investigation into Sunday's incident -- including how the rig caught fire -- was ongoing, the CHP said.


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