A fiery truck crash on the westbound 210 Freeway in Pasadena forced authorities to close the freeway to all westbound traffic and at least three lanes eastbound early morning Sunday, and disrupted train service on the Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension tracks which had just opened for passenger service a day earlier.
California Highway Patrol said the driver of a westbound tractor trailer lost control of the vehicle and it crashed through the cement median of the freeway at San Gabriel Blvd. at about 2:45 a.m., overturning and exploding in flames beside the tracks.
Captain Steve Strull of the CHP Station in Altadena said the heat from the fire melted the train tracks, forcing Metro to close train service.
Train service has been replaced by bus shuttles between Allen and Arcadia stations on the Gold Line extension, and it is not known what time the tracks can be repaired and trains could run on them again.
“For unknown reasons, he (the truck driver) lost control of the vehicle and the vehicle collided with the center divider of the freeway and jumped the center divider and landed on the Metro tracks,” Strull said. “The vehicle caught on fire. Fortunately, the driver was able to extricate himself from the vehicle with minor injuries.”
CHP and Caltrans are currently investigating the crash.
Strull said the accident, aside from melting the tracks under the overturned trailer, also forced Metro to cut electric service on the tracks suspending service between Allen and Arcadia stations.
CHP declared a Sig Alert at 3:10 a.m. and diverted all traffic on the freeway to Madre Street nearby during the initial hours after the accident.
The freeway is now open except for the carpool lane, but it may take some time for Metro to restore train service on the Gold Line.
Metro said a crane to remove the tractor trailer cannot be called in until at least 1 p.m. due to the heat still emanating from the tractor trailer.
Metro said it will release updates on what repairs may be needed on the tracks and the power systems, and whether these will impact service through tomorrow morning.
For the meantime, Metro is advising all customers to be especially careful due to the rainy weather and to allow extra time when travelling through the affected area. At the same time, it advised motorists to keep headlights on and travel at reduced speeds where necessary.
Although the cause of the big rig crash is still unknown, CHP has reported a spike in the number of crashes overnight as heavy rains pounded most areas in Los Angeles County. A KTLA report said CHP recorded 150 collisions in the county from 10 p.m. Saturday until 4 a.m. Sunday including the 210 crash in Pasadena.
The Pasadena Fire Department sent four fire engines, a water tender and a rescue ambulance to the scene of the crash.