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Freeway explosion: Tanker truck fire damages 60 Freeway, overpass

December 14, 2011 |  2:33 pm

Tanker explodes on 60 freeway
A tanker truck explosion on the 60 Freeway in Montebello produced flames so intense that officials believe it caused structural damage to an overpass, and the freeway is damaged as well.

Fire continues to engulf the truck, which has been under the bridge for almost two hours. Firefighters battling the blaze said they have observed pieces of metal and concrete dropping from the overpass, said Officer Luis Mendoza, a public information officer at the California Highway Patrol.

All lanes are closed and traffic is being diverted. The Los Angeles County Fire Department deemed the area a safety hazard. Mendoza said the interstate might be closed until Thursday. 

 PHOTOS: Fiery crash on the 60 Freeway

"This is the type of situation where we have to get Caltran and LAFD to look at structural damage," he said. 

The overpass was damaged enough that authorities will have to determine its safety before motorists can use it.

 “We believe the integrity of the over-crossing is compromised,” he said.

No injuries were reported. The cause of the explosion is still unknown.

The 60 Freeway was shut down in both directions at the 710 Freeway, and traffic was backed up into downtown Los Angeles.


Judge gives Lindsay Lohan more freedom

Tanker truck explodes in fireball on 60 Freeway

Cop who staged shooting may serve only fraction of sentence

-- Angel Jennings and Ari Bloomekatz

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

Credit: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times


Southern California -- this just in

Tanker truck explodes in fireball on 60 Freeway

Tanker explodes on 60 freeway
A tanker truck carrying fuel exploded Wednesday on eastbound 60 Freeway at Paramount Boulevard in Montebello, authorities said.

The incident was first called in at 12:07 p.m. and the fire continues to engulf the big rig, said Officer Francisco Villalobos, a public information officer with the California Highway Patrol. 

All lanes are closed in both directions as the Los Angeles County Fire Department works to contain the fire. Traffic heading east will be diverted to the Garfield and Wilcox avenues exit and westbound traffic will be diverted to San Gabriel Boulevard.

The Fire Department closed off the area after it was deemed a safety hazard.

Authorities do not know the cause of the explosion.  No injuries were reported. 

-- Angel Jennings

Photo: A tanker truck exploded on the 60 Freeway on Wednesday afternoon. Credit: KTLA-TV

Cop who staged shooting may serve only fraction of sentence


Jeffrey Stenroos, the former Los Angeles school police officer who staged his own shooting in a bizarre hoax, was sentenced Wednesday to five years in county jail. The judge in the case told Stenroos, however, he would have to serve only two years if he met the terms of his probation, according to court officials.

Convicted in September of planting false evidence, insurance fraud and other crimes, Stenroos, 31, appeared to receive no mercy from Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Richard N. Kirschner, who handed down the heftiest sentence permitted under state guidelines. But the judge then told Stenroos that he will walk free after only two years and remain so as long as he finished 400 hours of community service, paid a yet-to-be-decided amount of restitution and met other terms of his probation, said Jane Robison, a spokesperson for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office.

And instead of sending Stenroos to a state-run prison as prosecutors had wanted, Kirschner said he would remain in a Los Angeles County jail -– apparently because of a recently enacted plan meant to ease overcrowding in state prisons. The sentence came after Stenroos underwent a 90-day psychological evaluation to assess whether he should go to prison or receive probation.

Called “a disgrace,” by the superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District and chided by Los Angeles Police Department officials for trivializing actual dangers police face, Stenroos’ faked shooting on Jan. 19 triggered a massive and costly manhunt for a fabricated assailant that brought a swath of the San Fernando Valley to a standstill for hours.

Stenroos, a nearly 8-year veteran of the school police, was found by a passerby in apparent pain on the sidewalk near El Camino Real High School in Woodland Hills. He told officers that he had been following up on a report of a car burglar in the area, when a man with a ponytail and bomber-style jacket shot him in the chest and fled. Stenroos' bulletproof vest had apparently saved him from serious injury or death.

Believing there was a gunman loose in the area, more than 550 police officers combed the quiet neighborhoods near the school, conducting door-to-door searches and keeping an 8-mile area locked down for 10 hours.

Police were perplexed and suspicious of Stenroos’ account almost from the outset. A spent shell casing found at the scene and bruising on Stenroos' chest seemed to support his story. But the officer gave investigators conflicting accounts of how the shooting had unfolded, telling them, for example, that there had been only one shot fired and then changing his story to say there had been several. Then, in the days after the shooting, he dodged investigators who wanted to question him further.

During the trial, an LAPD detective testified that Stenroos admitted to faking the attack, confessing that he had accidentally shot himself while trying to clean his weapon – an explanation that remains dubious. Prosecutors and police officials have alleged Stenroos may have shot himself intentionally to gain notoriety.

Stenroos’ attorney, Tim Murphy, rejected that notion. The officer had been sitting in his office at the school when he accidentally shot himself while cleaning his gun, Murphy said in an earlier interview. After realizing he was not seriously injured, Stenroos went about his patrol duties and was overcome by a delayed pain from the impact of the bullet and fell to the sidewalk, Murphy said.

City officials have said they are seeking more than $350,000 in restitution from Stenroos to cover the costs of the dragnet, and the school district is seeking $58,000 in medical costs. A hearing to determine how much Stenroos must pay was scheduled for Jan. 19.

Murphy could not be reached immediately after the sentencing for comment. In a past interview he conceded that his client had made “an incredibly stupid mistake” by lying about the shooting, but said it was never proven that Stenroos acted intentionally and with intent to commit fraud.

--Joel Rubin (twitter.com/joelrubin)


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--Joel Rubin

Photo: Jeffrey Stenroos. Credit: Los Angeles Times

Judge gives Lindsay Lohan more freedom