Westbound 134 at L.A. River Will Close For Several Nights Due to Tanker Fire Damage

An alleged drunk driver collided with a tanker truck, causing a massive fire Sunday.

The westbound 134 Freeway near the Los Angeles River will undergo nightly repairs and be closed for several nights after a gasoline tanker explosion Sunday, according to the Los Angeles Times.

A California Department of Transportation spokesman said the damage was "external" and that the road is safe for drivers, according to the Times.

Traffic in the Glendale and Griffith Park areas was snarled all day, and motorists dealt with the second major tanker truck fire that closed Southland freeway bridges in four months.

CHP officers said the crash was caused when a sedan driven by an allegedly drunk Glendale man smashed into the back of a tandem tanker truck, ramming it into a guardrail where the freeway passes over the Los Angeles River and enters a complicated interchange with the Golden State (5) Freeway.

Home video captured by a passing motorist showed several hundred feet of flaming gas in the gutters of the westbound freeway after the 11 p.m. Saturday fire.

The CHP said the crash was caused by an allegedly drunken driver -- Hakop Maghakyan, 25, of Glendale -- who drove into the back of the tanker at 11 p.m. Saturday. Maghakyan's 2010 Honda rear-ended the second trailer being hauled behind a Peterbilt tractor, and the rear trailer struck a guardrail, overturned and erupted into flames under the transition road bridge.

Maghakyan and the unidentified truck driver ran to the nearby Zoo Drive offramp and were not injured, firefighters said. Maghakyan failed field sobriety tests, and was booked for suspicion of drunken driving at the Glendale Police Department Jail, a CHP officer said.

The fire burned for about an hour, and rekindled at least once. Once it was put out, cleanup crews offloaded the approximately 3,000 gallons of unburned gasoline left in one of the two tankers.

At midmorning, firefighters opened an access hatchway into the hollow connector ramp bridge late in the morning, to spray water on wood that was still burning 10 hours after the crash. A Caltrans engineers said the burning wood was concrete pouring forms that had been left in place inside the structure more than 50 years ago, when the interchange between the 134 and the Golden State (5) Freeway was built.

A similar tanker crash in the "Maze" interchange at the San Francisco- Oakland Bay Bridge in 2007 forced closure of several transition road bridges there for 10 days, while emergency structural repairs were rushed to completion.

A tanker fire in Montebello in December resulted in destructive damage to an overpass above the Pomona (60) Freeway, a bridge that is still being rebuilt.

Dennis Hamm April 10, 2012 at 04:25 AM
My video from that night: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7dyenuOM7Gs


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »