Driver "Very Lucky" to Escape Burning Tanker After Irwindale Crash

The driver told the CHP he fell asleep before crashing into a freeway divider

By Robert Henry, Jonathan Lloyd and Annette Arreola
|  Wednesday, Feb 27, 2013  |  Updated 7:30 AM PDT
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A driver told the CHP he fell asleep at the wheel before a fiery tanker crash on the 210 Freeway in Irwindale. Annette Arreola reports for Today in LA on Wednesday Feb. 27, 2013.

A driver told the CHP he fell asleep at the wheel before a fiery tanker crash on the 210 Freeway in Irwindale. Annette Arreola reports for Today in LA on Wednesday Feb. 27, 2013.

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A tanker truck crashed and exploded into flames on a freeway in Irwindale Wednesday morning, forcing lane closures on both sides of the 210 Freeway near the 605 Freeway.

The crash occurred at  3:33 a.m. on the westbound 210 Freeway. The tanker hit a center divider before catching fire.

Los Angeles County firefighters extinguished the fire and crews were working to reopen the freeway.

Traffic on both sides of the 210 Freeway was moving slowly through the area at 6 a.m. after road crews cleared some of the debris. All lanes reopened at about 7 a.m. after a full closure early Wednesday.

The driver told the California Highway Patrol he fell asleep at the wheel after working a 12-hour shift Monday and beginning another shift late Tuesday night. He was westbound on the 210 Freeway when he fell asleep.

"He woke up when he traveled across all lanes, and the big rig and trailer struck the center divider wall," said California Highway Patrol Sgt. Aaron Knarr.

The tanker traveled for about 1,000 feet along the divider, Knarr said.

"He's very lucky that he was able to get out of the truck before it burned to the ground," said Knarr.

An absorbent was used to clean a diesel fuel spill from the freeway.

The driver reported shoulder and back injuries, Knarr said.

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