60 Freeway Reopens After Tanker Carrying Compressed Hydrogen Catches Fire

Crews sprayed 2,000 gallons of water every minute for hours on the tanks to avoid an explosion

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    Traffic piles up on the Pomona (60) Freeway in Hacienda Heights after a hydrogen-hauling tanker truck catches fire on Nov. 14, 2013. Both sides of the freeway were reopened seven hours after the blaze erupted.

    Firefighters worked for more than five hours Thursday to douse flames eating away at a tanker truck carrying hydrogen on the Pomona (60) Freeway, shutting down both sides of the freeway in Hacienda Heights during evening rush hour and beyond.

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    Both sides of the freeway except for a single lane were reopened by 10 p.m., according to a tweet from the California Highway Patrol. The agency said the right lane on the eastbound side will remain closed until further notice.

    A tanker truck hauling highly flammable compressed hydrogen caught fire on the eastbound side of the freeway near Hacienda Boulevard about 3 p.m.

    The driver of the truck escaped the burning cab, which was melted to the ground after flames ripped through the front portion of the truck. She told officers she heard a pop, veered to the right shoulder and exited the truck before the fire started.

    Flames were still visible in the smoking hulk of the cab about 8 p.m., five hours after the fire erupted.

    For hours, crews doused the hydrogen tanks with 2,000 gallons of water per minute to keep them cool, according to the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

    Fear that the tanks would heat up and explode prompted a shelter-in-place order for residents on the other side of a freeway retaining wall, yards away from the burning truck. Those orders were lifted about 9 p.m., fire officials said.

    Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputies were called to evacuate homes nearby, but wound up not having to, authorities said.

    During the lane closures, traffic was diverted to the northbound San Gabriel (605) Freeway. Drivers were advised to use Valley Boulevard or the 10 Freeway as alternates.

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