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LOCAL : Truck Fuel Leak Snarls Freeway With Accidents, Cleanup Crews

From Times Staff and Wire Service Reports

A big rig with a ruptured fuel tank left a slippery 7-mile trail of diesel fuel along the southbound San Diego Freeway this morning, causing a rash of traffic accidents, the California Highway Patrol said.

The truck, which began spilling fuel in Fountain Valley at Brookhurst Avenue about 5:30 a.m., finally stopped at the Macarthur Boulevard off-ramp in Irvine when the truck’s fuel tank ran dry, CHP Officer Angel Johnson said.

The trucker was unaware of the leaking fuel, she said.

“He was just driving down the road and didn’t know anything was wrong,” Johnson said.

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Although the truck lost only about 25 gallons, Johnson said, the spill caused at least six traffic accidents, three of them involving overturned cars and at least one injury.

“Everything happened pretty much at the same time,” Johnson said. “It was a mess.”

The spill also caused delays for more than an hour as CHP units responded to the various accidents and state Department of Transportation crews tried to mop up the slippery liquid, Johnson said.

Although the fuel dissipated quickly, the accidents caused rush-hour traffic on the southbound side of the freeway to back up from Fairview Road to the Garden Grove Freeway until at least 7 a.m., Johnson said.

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