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California Ethanol Truck's Fiery Crash Kills Driver

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LONG BEACH, Calif. — A tanker truck hauling 8,000 gallons of ethanol crashed and exploded into an inferno that sent a river of fire into storm drains, killed the driver and blocked major highways.

Witnesses said the heat from the blazing ethanol, or ethyl alcohol, was so intense it melted guardrails, and all that remained of the truck were its axles and small portions of the cab.

The truck crashed around 6 p.m. Saturday, hitting the side rail of eastbound State Route 91 at the transition to Interstate 710, the Long Beach Fire Department said in a statement. The cause of the crash was under investigation.

A huge fireball enveloped the I-710 overpasses, Long Beach Fire Department Capt. Jackawa Jackson said.

Officials worried the fire may have weakened the elevated stretch of road, the fire department said.

However, the interstate was reopened several hours after the crash and all but one lane of the state route were open to traffic Sunday, the California Highway Patrol said.

A stream of burning alcohol flowed from the tanker into a storm drain, shooting plumes of flame 20 feet in the air from other storm drains.

Firefighters snuffed the flames with foam, Jackson said.

The driver's name was not immediately released.

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