2 Dead in Tanker-Truck Fire, Explosion on Major LA Freeway

August 24, 2018 Updated: August 24, 2018

A vehicle fire on the 105 Freeway in Los Angeles forced the closure of all lanes, snarling traffic for miles, according to reports.

The Orange County Register reported that two people died after a tanker truck crashed a fiery accident. The incident took place after 5 a.m. local time.

Capt. Doug Young of the California Highway Patrol said that the tanker hit a center divider and overturned, with one of the tanks exploding into flames, the Register reported. The SUV was involved in the crash.

The tanker-truck driver applied the brakes to avoid hitting the SUV and jackknifed, according to Uber driver Hisaki Shimizu, who was a witness, the Register reported. Gasoline then started flowing “like a river” from one of the tanks, he stated.

Shimizu said he drove through the gasoline, and a few minutes later, a fire erupted. He tried to motion other drivers to steer clear of the accident.

Since both lanes were closed in both directions, some drivers started turning around and drove the wrong way to find an exit, witnesses told the Los Angles Times.

The eastbound lanes of the 105 Freeway were opened at 8 a.m., but the westbound lanes remained closed, according to the California Highway Patrol in the LA Times report.

According to ABC7, a food truck operated by AC Catering got stuck on the freeway and began feeding drivers at half price. An unnamed catering employee confirmed the details to ABC7.

“We saw other people walking down with sandwiches and we were like, ‘Where are we going? Let’s go get it.’ So we just walked up here, and there’s a lot of great people and we’re all hanging out and talking and trying to get through it,” said Michael Ullrich, a driver.

Both drivers were killed and coroner’s officials will determine if anyone else was in the vehicles.

County Fire Department Inspector Joey Marron said that fuel is being carefully removed from a trailer tank that overturned but did not burn.

Officials said in a press conference the condition of the pavement on the westbound side still needs to be assessed. The cause of the collision remains under investigation.

Massive Fire

The fire took down some wires along the Metro Rail Green Line, forcing the closure of the station at the Green Line, the Register reported.

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Jose Ubaldo,  a spokesman for the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, said a bus was sent out to pick up Green Line passengers at the Hawthorne/Lennox, Crenshaw and Vermont/Athens stations. “They’re going to experience delays, but we’re trying to accommodate people as much as possible,” he told the LA Times.

Commuter Felipe Alvarado said that he was trying to get to the airport, which is located nearby.

“We were hoping to get out to get our plane, but it looks like we’re not going to catch our plane,” Alvarado told the ABC station. “It’s crazy. We’re taking our son to college, flying to Boston. Needless to say, we missed his flight, but we’re on a 2 o’clock flight this afternoon, so roll with the punches,” another driver said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.