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Freeway explosion: Tanker truck's brakes may have sparked fire

December 14, 2011 |  2:33 pm

Tanker fire may have been caused by brakesThe driver of the tanker truck that exploded on the 60 Freeway on Wednesday was able to escape his truck because he noticed a fire underneath his trailer and attempted to pull over, authorities said.

California Highway Patrol Officer Luis Mendoza said the driver abandoned the truck after a blaze engulfed the first of two fuel tanks. They don't know what caused the truck to catch fire but speculated that the truck's brakes may have caused the blaze.

The flaming vehicle was stopped underneath the Paramount Boulevard overpass in Montebello. The heat of the fire caused concrete blocks to fall onto the freeway.

PHOTOS: Fiery crash on the 60 Freeway

Authorities closed the entire 60 Freeway at 12:20 p.m., saying smoke from the fire was toxic.

There were no injuries in the collision or fire, and Mendoza said the blaze was 80% contained at about 2 p.m., though crews were still battling flames.

The massive fire is already causing a huge traffic problem. Drivers should expect "two- to three-hour delays at this point," Mendoza said. "Avoid 60 all around."

Traffic is being diverted in both directions while the firefighters work to contain the blaze. All lanes are closed and are not expected to open in time for the evening commute. It's unclear whether they will be open by morning, he said.

Eastbound traffic is being rerouted to Garfield and Wilcox avenues while westbound traffic is being redirected to San Gabriel Boulevard.


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Photo: A tanker truck burns beneath the Paramount overpass on the eastbound 60 Freeway in Montebello.

Credit: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times