The Los Angeles River experienced a fuel spill and fire on Saturday, July 13 around 10:30AM, when a fuel tanker crashed in a freeway tunnel releasing 8,500 gallons of automotive gasoline. Fuel traveled through a storm drain into the Los Angeles River in Elysian Valley at Allesandro Street, inciting a powerful inferno in the riverbed on a sandbar with vegetation.
Photo of LA River Fire by Anthea Raymond
LAFD appeared on the scene and knocked down the fire immediately. The bike path was closed for public safety for over 24 hours. Many public agencies coordinated to visit the site, including US EPA, CA Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Office of Spill Prevention and Response, LA County Flood Control, City of LA Stormwater Protection, and Haz-Mat vendor Clean Harbors. It has been expressed by government agencies that much of the fuel burned away in the inflagration, and that some residual fuel was absorbed by the sand bar, but that fuel did not travel downstream to contaminate the water quality.
LAFD Photo by Erik Scott shows the large-scale agency coordination deployed for the tanker and river fires.
On Monday, July 16, Mountains Recreation & Conservation Authority (MRCA) re-opened the LA River Recreation Zone Pilot Program. Kayak have resumed. The bike path is now open. The casual passerby can see the scorched vegetation taped off with police tape and can still smell fuel fumes. On July 22, City of LA Stormwater Protection visited the site to collect soil samples on the sand bar near the stormdrain outfall. The Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board has also inspected the site.
Photo of scorched sand bar and vegetation by Peter Bennett
We will continue to update you as more information becomes available. Below are links to various reports on this event.