Exact cause of 60 Freeway hydrogen truck fire a mystery


HACIENDA HEIGHTS — Details continued to emerge Friday regarding a hydrogen-hauling big rig that erupted into flames on the 60 Freeway in Hacienda Heights, however the total destruction of the truck made it impossible to determine the exact cause of the fire, officials said.
The blaze in eastbound traffic lanes near Hacienda Boulevard drew a massive emergency response and forced the closure of both directions of the 60 Freeway for more than six hours, California Highway Patrol and Los Angeles County Fire Department officials said.
The driver of the truck, a 39-year-old San Bernardino woman, escaped from her burning big rig unscathed, CHP Officer Joe Zizi said.
Officials intended to impound the charred truck, which displayed logos of the company Praxair, and thoroughly examine it to determine exactly what caused the fire, officials said. The truck was based out of Ontario.
“Unfortunately, the entire cab of the truck was burned to the ground,” he said. But officials suspected the fire was related to an engine problem.
With not enough truck left to examine, “We have to take the driver’s word for it that there was a pop in the engine,” Zizi said. Fire officials confirmed that the fire originated in the front section of the cab.
“(The driver) was able to get out before it got fully engulfed,” Zizi said. “The tried to get the fire extinguisher, but couldn’t get to it because of the flames.”
But the driver was able to quickly inform authorities that the truck contained 4,000 pounds of highly flammable compressed hydrogen gas, he said.
“The heat of the engine fire impinged on the trailer, and caused the pressure release piping to leak,” Zizi said. A pressure valve melted, and two pipes began leaking hydrogen gas, which ignited.
“There was 3 to 4 feet of flames coming from the hydrogen tanks,” Zizi said. “Fortunately, it wasn’t compromised completely.”
Fire Capt. Scott Miller said firefighters took a “defensive” stance as they poured water on the burning tractor-trailer for several hours. Even after the flames were extinguished, firefighters continued hosing down the tanks to make sure they had cooled entirely.
Officials allowed all of the remaining hydrogen to vent from the tanks before moving the big rig.
And although the big rig fire snarled traffic throughout the area and tied up emergency personnel for hours, “In a worst-case scenario, it could have been very terrible,” Zizi said. “Everybody did a great job.”
New York-based Praxair has a “satisfactory” rating with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. The company consists of 749 drivers, and has better-than-average safety statistics in all categories.

PHOTO courtesy of the L.A. County Fire Department

UPDATED: Big rig hauling hydrogen tanks catches fire on 60 Freeway in Hacienda Heights


HACEINDA HEIGHTS — A big rig believed to be hauling compressed hydrogen cylinders caught fire on the 60 Freeway in Hacienda Heights Thursday afternoon, prompting authorities to shut down both directions of the freeway.
The fire was reported just before 2:50 p.m. on the eastbound side of the freeway near Hacienda Boulevard, according to California Highway Patrol logs. The truck was hauling long cylinders believed to contain compressed hydrogen
Firefighters pumped water onto the fire from a distance, and CHP officers kept traffic well away from the burning big rig, diverting motorists off at nearby exits.
Eastbound traffic was initially being diverted at the Seventh Avenue offramp, however officials ultimately closed eastbound traffic all the way back to the 605 Freeway, CHP Officer Patrick Kimball said. Westbound traffic was being diverted of the 60 Freeway at Azusa Avenue, creating a mile-long buffer between the fire and freeway traffic.
The fire was largely extinguished by 4 p.m., however authorities still considered the trailer to pose a risk of potential explosion, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said.
“Where we stand right now, we’re still cooling the tanks, letting the tanks vent into the atmosphere,” Los Angeles County Fire Department Inspector Scott Miller said shortly before 4:30 p.m.
Once the tanks were emptied, he said, officials hoped to start working to move the scorched remains of the truck and reopen the freeway.
No injuries were reported in connection with the fire, Miller said.
Deputies were preparing to evacuate homes if necessary along residential streets, particularly those just south of the truck fire.
It was unclear how long the freeway would remain closed as a result of the fire.

PHOTO courtesy of the Los Angeles County Fire Department

Fire tears through vacant, city-owned house in Irwindale


IRWINDALE — A large fire gutted a vacant, stone-built, city-owned house Thursday, officials said.
Passers-by first reported seeing flames emanating from the house along Arrow Highway at Allen Drive just after 6 p.m., Irwindale police Sgt. George Zendejas said.
The home was engulfed in fire, with flames shooting through the roof, when firefighters arrived on-scene, Los Angeles County Fire Department Capt. Mark Delgado said.
“We could see a large column of smoke probably two miles out,” he said.
A partial roof collapse prompted firefighters to assume a defensive stance as they doused the burning home with water, officials said. The flames were extinguished in about half an hour.
1109_NWS-SGT-L-HOUSEFIRE2The house sustained major damage, Delgado said, though a dollar-value estimate was not immediately available.
An arson investigator was summoned to the scene to look into the cause of the fire.
There was no electricity connected at the vacant home, Delgado said. Officials were investigating the possibility transients staying inside the vacant home may have caused the blaze.
No injuries were reported to civilians or firefighters, Delgado said.

Fire scorches La Verne apartment

LA VERNE — A fire scorched an apartment Thursday afternoon, however no injuries were reported, authorities said.
The fire ignited about 3:40 p.m. at a second-floor apartment unit int he 2600 block of Sycamore Drive, La Verne Fire Department spokeswoman Rafaela Giles said.
Firefighters declared the fire knocked down 24 minutes later, she said.
The cause of the fire, as well as the extent of the damage, was not immediately clear.

Home scorched, firefighters hurt, dog rescued in Monrovia house fire

A house was gutted, two firefighters suffered minor burns and a pet dog was rescued in a fire along Royal Oaks Drive early Sunday, officials said.
The fire was first reported at 3:16 a.m. at a single-story house in the 400 block of Royal Oaks Drive, just east of California Avenue, Monrovia Fire Department Division Chief Ron Pelham said.
A couple who lives in the home had managed to get out unharmed when firefighters arrived, he said. A third resident of the home — their granddaughter — was not present at the time of the fire.
Firefighters also rescued a small white dog from inside the burning home unharmed, Pelham said.
Two firefighters were treated for minor burns suffered while battling the blaze, but were quickly treated and released from the hospital, Pelham said. Firefighters extinguished the flames in about 20 minutes.
The home was badly damaged, however it was not yet determined whether it would be a total loss, officials said.
The cause of the fire was under investigation.

Fire scorches Rosemead apartment

ROSEMEAD — A fire blamed on discarded matches scorched a third-floor apartment Tuesday, however firefighters doused the flames before they spread to any other units, officials said.
The fire was reported shortly before 6 p.m. at a large apartment complex in the 6300 block of Rosemead Boulevard, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Anthony Haynes said.
The resident of the apartment got out unharmed, and firefighters extinguished the fire before it could damage other apartments, Los Angeles County Fire Department Capt. Richard Johnson said.
The fire was believed to have been caused by matches that had been left on a bed before completely extinguished, Johnson said. A dollar-vale estimate of the damage caused by the fire was not available.

UPDATED: Tanker truck fire shuts down 710 Freeway in Commerce, injures two

A tanker trunk burst into flames on the 710 Freeway in Commerce, injuring two people, destroying a total of seven vehicles and forcing the closure of all southbound lanes, authorities said.
The incident was first reported at 9:37 a.m. as a double-wide tanker trunk that had tipped onto its side and caught fire on the southbound 710 Freeway, at the Washington Boulevard overpass, according to California Highway Patrol logs. It was not initially clear if any other vehicles were involved in the crash.
Firefighters arrived to find the flaming truck “hanging over the side of the freeway,” Los Angeles County Fire Department Inspector Brian Jordan said.
The tanker fire quickly grew to massive proportions, prompting authorities to evacuate nearby homes as a precaution.
No homes caught fire, however the burning tanker truck and crude oil that spilled out of it set six other vehicles on fire on Washington Boulevard below the freeway, Jordan said. They included five passenger vehicles and one commercial truck.
“There was fire on the freeway, fire on the ground below,” Jordan said.“Crude oil inside the truck caught fire. Crude oil went down the storm drain, onto the street.”
Both directions of Washington Boulevard became covered with burning oil.
Though CHP logs indicated the tanker truck driver, a man in his 30s, was feared burned and seriously injured, he was ultimately taken to a hospital with injuries described as minor to moderate, Jordan said.
Another man who was also in his 30s who had been walking near scene when the fiery crash occurred was hospitalized for minor to moderate injuries, Jordan added. The type of injuries the man suffered was not clear.
Caltrans officials were summoned to the scene to inspect the overpass to see if it had been compromised by the fire, CHP Officer Monica Posada said.
The northbound lanes of the 710 Freeway near the crash scene was shut down for about an hour following the fire, Posada said. The southbound lanes were expected to remain closed well into the afternoon.
Officers from the East Los Angeles office of the CHP were handling the investigation.

UPDATED with PHOTOS: Fire severely damages historic Craftsman-style home in Pasadena blamed on electrical problem


PASADENA — A fire that tore through a 110-year-old Craftsman-style home last weekend was sparked by an electrical problem, authorities said.
The single story home at 740 N. Michigan Avenue, caught fire about 9 a.m. Saturday, Pasadena Fire Department spokeswoman Lisa Derderian said. The residents were away on vacation.
1019_NWS_PSN-L-HOUSEFIRE2The recently restored home has been featured on city historical tours, officials said.
“Neighbors called when they saw smoke through the roof,” she said. “On-scene, we saw heavy smoke and flames through the roof, so we took an offensive mode on the roof.”
But firefighters were forced to switch tactics when the roof began to lose its integrity and become “spongy” beneath their feet, Derderian said.
Firefighters got off the roof once it began to weaken and switched to a defensive stance, she said. “There was a partial roof collapse within minutes of us evacuating the roof.”
1019_NWS_PSN-L-HOUSEFIRE3Nearby homes were evacuated as a precaution.
Firefighters extinguished the fire in about 30 minutes, Derderian said. It caused an estimated$700,000 worth of damage to the home and it’s contents.
No firefighters or civilians were injured, she said.
The fire was determined to be electrical in nature, stemming from a malfunctioning exterior lighting system, Derderian said.
1019_NWS_PSN-L-HOUSEFIRE4According to the California Historical Resources Inventory Database, the 1.947-square-foot home in the historic Bungalow Heaven District was built in 1903 and is a designated historical site.

PHOTOS courtesy of Jamie Nicholson/Pasadena Fire Department

Monterey Park home destroyed by fire

MONTEREY PARK — A fire destroyed a Monterey Park home and caused a home oxygen system to explode early Sunday, however no injuries were reported, authorities said.
The fire was first reported at 1:43 a.m. in the 200 block of West Markland Drive, Monterey Park police Sgt. Dave Elliott said.
Firefighters from neighboring agencies helped Monterey Park firefighters attack the flames, the sergeant said.
At least one explosion heard emanating from the home was believed to have been caused by a burning home oxygen system used by an elderly resident, fire officials said.
Everyone had evacuated the home before officials arrived, and no injuries were reported, fire officials said.
A dollar-value estimate of the loss was not available early Sunday, however the home and its contents were believed to be a total loss.
The cause of the fire remained under investigation. Further details were not available Sunday.

Glendora Mountain Road, Glendora Ridge Road closed in forest due to fire risk

ANGELES NATIONAL FOREST — Officials have shut down portions of Glendora Mountain Road and Glendora Ridge Road in the Angeles National Forest due to concerns over increased fire danger.
Glendora Mountain Road was closed from the Glendora city limit north to East Fork Road, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Andy Smith said. Glendora Ridge Road was closed from Glendora Mountain Road to Mt. Baldy Road.
The closures were expected to remain in effect through Monday, as low relative humidity levels and Santa Ana winds created prime conditions for fires, Smith said.