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Massive Tanker Truck Fire Shuts Down Major SOCAL Freeway

by Jana Ritter - Published: 4/27/2015

The southbound lanes of the 710 Freeway in Bell, California still remain closed Monday morning after a massive tanker truck fire caused chaos late Sunday afternoon. The accident occurred south of Atlantic Boulevard between Slauson Avenue and Bandini Boulevard at around 3:30 p.m., when a tanker truck trailer overturned and erupted in flames, shutting down the 710 Freeway in both directions.

                        Tanker Fire On 710 Freeway

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According to authorities, the tanker truck driver and a passenger had been pulling a double trailer when they driver heard a popping sound and saw the second trailer begin to tip over. The driver immediately pulled over and the two men were able to run from the truck, escaping the blast unharmed. Good thing, because the tanker had been carrying 8,500 gallons of fuel between the two tanks.

"He heard a loud pop. He looked in his rear view mirror and he saw that he either lost a tire or experienced a flat in his rear trailer. At that point, he saw that the trailer had overturned," said Officer Juan Galvan of the California Highway Patrol.

Although only one of the tanks erupted, it caused a massive explosion with flames and smoke that halted traffic and could be seen for miles away. Despite the size of the fire on such a major freeway, fortunately no injuries were reported and it was mainly the Los Angeles County Fire officials who had the difficult task of putting out the fire. Capt. Keith Mora said that the firefighters had to drag the fire hose across the northbound lanes over to the southbound lanes and use foam to put out the flames.

                                               Firemen Use Foam

"We're containing the spill of gasoline, so that it doesn't go any further south, with crews that just are diking and damming," Mora said Sunday. “We also had a small area of brush or grass, about 100 feet, that caught on fire." Another tanker truck was brought out to capture the remaining fuel and Caltrans crews were sent out to inspect any further possible damage to the freeway. California Highway Patrol officers were immediately called in to divert both the southbound and northbound traffic caught in the radius of the scene. Many drivers indicated that being trapped in the snarled traffic wasn’t just inconvenient, but that the scene was absolutely terrifying to watch.

While the exact cause of the crash is still being investigated, no other vehicles were involved and Caltrans officials say that two of the four lanes of the 710 from Atlantic Boulevard to Florence Avenue may re-open as early as 5 p.m. Monday and that the remaining lanes would reopen late Monday night or early Tuesday morning.

What also remains to be seen is whether the tanker truck driver will incur any fines. What many people don’t realize is that HAZMAT drivers are often issued mandated fines in these situations and they can be as much as $175,000. HAZMAT drivers are usually paid more, but even they don’t realize that they can often be found more accountable for accidents involving the hazardous material they’re carrying and only become aware of it when they’re slapped with the hefty fines. An on-going issue that needs to be more openly discussed.

Do you think its fair game that more pay can also mean that HAZMAT drivers are more accountable when accidents occur with bad consequences?


Darryk Cromwell
Darryk Cromwell
Depends on if the driver was at fault. If it was speed then ya the drier is done. But if it was due to faulty equipment then you have to look at the drivers pre/post trip to see if there was a mech problem being documented and reported, If so then the company is ass out, or the Driver if he owned the truck and trailer. I cant really see a sharp enough curve to tip that trailer over. Maybe a blown tire..
Trucking Unlimited
Trucking Unlimited
He said he heard a "pop" like it was a blown tire or something.
Kevin Bourque
Kevin Bourque
A blown tire may well have been what caused the fire. But were there other precautions he could have taken? Did he load himself and was there a valve open that should have been closed? Having been a tanker/hazmat driver, many times we dont even load ourselves, so who is really responsible, and who is usually left hanging out to dry? Typically the shipper and the transporter are the responsible parties that will be listed in the lawsuits.
Kevin Bourque
Kevin Bourque
He was hauling fuel which usually means the driver loaded the two tankers. Hauling fuel presents a problem. Although all tankers have belly valves that prevent the flow of any fuel, all of the piping under the tanker is full of fuel. There could easily be 50-75 gallons that aren't inside the tanker. This usually presents a problem when a tire blows. Why did the tire blow, was it a bad tire? Were his brakes over heating? You can bet that every maintainance record for that trailer and truck will be looked at.
Mike Fisher
Mike Fisher
The pay variant isn't that great between haz and non-haz to comp for excessive fines......
Robert A. Luthart
Robert A. Luthart
Most of the tanker fires I've seen start for two reasons... brake failures/excessive heat, or tire failure. I think a few could have been prevented two ways... one how often was the driver checking his mirrors, and did he kick the tires or use an actual gauge??? Two... what are the shop records for inspecting the brakes and adjusting them??? Some shops cut costs at all corners regardless of safety, you don't see this happen to too many reputable companies!!!
Trucking Unlimited
Trucking Unlimited
Really good info and insight Robert A. Luthart!
Mike Ruter
Mike Ruter
Yep but u think they should get a premium wage and 50 cents eather
Jw Barnett
Jw Barnett
I drive a tanker. Hazmat and all. I use an instant read thermometer for hubs and tires at every stop. Thank goodness our mechanics don't skip on maintenance and prevention. A lot of 4 wheelers need to learn about inertia and identifying the placard ed load they are riding beside. Simply Google up UN the 4 digit numerals and I'm sure they wouldn't hang around long. Everyday some idiot tries to put me in a bind. Whether intentional or not it happens. 32 yrs has helped me avoid stupid mistakes by others. Constant vigilance of everything and reading Wth they are doing gives me a heads up as to what to expect.
Annie Champers
Annie Champers
I totally agree on that