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Updated: Driver in Tanker Truck Inferno Cited, Released [Video]

Two water-dropping helicopters help quench the fire.

Update 11 a.m. Monday: A man blamed for the crash that closed down the Ventura Freeway from Saturday night until Sunday night is out of jail this morning.

Authorities tell City News Service that 25-year-old Hakop Maghakyan of Glendale was released Sunday. He had been locked up at the Glendale Police Department Jail on suspicion of drunken driving. The suspect allegedly drove into a gasoline tanker, sparking a spectacular fire. No one was hurt.

Previously: A river of fire flowed down the Ventura (134) Freeway at the Los Angeles River at midnight, as a gas tanker truck was split open by an apparent drunken driver's car.

Home video captured by a passing motorists showed flaming gas in the gutters of the westbound freeway. (Warning: some of the attached YouTube videos contain profane language.)

Pictures from the scene showed a possible slight sag in a transition road bridge above the freeway's mainline. Engineers were examining the curving transition road bridge, above the burned-out tanker, that links the west 134 to the south 5.

Both directions of the 134 Freeway were closed following the 11 p.m. Saturday crash, where a sedan piloted by an allegedly drunk driver rear-ended a tandem tanker truck on the westbound freeway at the Golden State (5) Freeway interchange.

Eastbound lanes were reopened at about 7 a.m. Westbound mainline lanes were to remain closed until about noon, and no estimate for reopening of the transition road was issued. The adjacent link from the west 134 to the north 5 was also closed.

The Zoo Drive offramps from the nearby 5 Freeway were also closed.

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

In the overnight fire, much of the 8,600 gallons of gasoline in the tanker truck burned. The chain of events started at about 11 p.m. Saturday, when a 2010 Honda rear-ended the second trailer being hauled behind a Peterbilt tractor.

The rear trailer struck a guardrail, overturned and erupted into flames under the transition road bridge.

The drivers from the sedan and the truck ran to the nearby Zoo Drive offramp and were not injured, firefighters said. But the 25-year-old Glendale man flunked field sobriety tests, and was arrested for suspicion of drunken driving.

Cleanup crews offloaded the roughly 3,000 gallons of gasoline left in one of the two tankers.

134juan April 09, 2012 at 05:21 AM
that is completely useless video. please remove. thank you. REally people. I mean, you are not supposed to slow down and look at an accident. You are not supposed to videotape and drive at the same time. This represents the entire population of nutbags who are on the road with you and me. REmove the video please. C'mon Dan.
Janet Alvarado Dodson April 09, 2012 at 08:05 AM
So now imagine this crash takes place inside a 5-mile tunnel with no exits. This is the nightmare in store for us if CalTrans and the MTA succeed in their relentless drive to build the useless astronomically expensive ineffectual 710 tunnel.
Roger Dobkowitz April 09, 2012 at 02:18 PM
A lesson that should be learned from this is that when tankers (or cars) catch on fire they DO NOT EXPLODE...they only burn. Hollywood had taught a whole generation to think that cars and tankers explode when they burn. A friend who is an EMT has told me that people wrongly pull hurt people out of cars because they think the car will explode. People inside car accidents often have broken bones and need a professional to pull them out.
Maggie Freed April 09, 2012 at 03:09 PM
We sat on the 134 on our way back to Eagle Rock from the SF Valley at midnight for about half an hour before they let us squeeze by on the right shoulder. It had mostly burned out by then, but I've never seen so many fire trucks, must have been at least 30 of them. [to above comments, I would expect they were the passengers filming, not the drivers]. Very dramatic video!

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