Trash truck fire makes mess of 405 Freeway near Costa Mesa

Costa Mesa fire crews Monday evening battle a fire that broke out inside a commercial waste hauler truck on the 405 Freeway.
(Courtesy of Costa Mesa Fire & Rescue)

Rush hour traffic is rarely kind, but motorists traveling on the 405 Freeway near Costa Mesa Monday evening had an even bigger hassle to contend with after a trash truck caught fire, closing lanes for several hours.

Costa Mesa Fire & Rescue Battalion Chief Chris Coates said a fire broke inside a commercial waste disposal truck shortly after 5 p.m. while the vehicle was traveling northbound on the freeway, near the Bristol Avenue exit.

Crews arriving on scene had to take special precautions to extinguish the flames from the vehicle, operated by Universal Waste Systems, Inc., because the truck was powered by compressed natural gas, which can be highly explosive in certain conditions, according to Coates.

“Firefighters simultaneously worked to extinguish the fire while ensuring there was no excessive heat on or near the GNG tanks,” he said Tuesday.

Because of the location of the fire, the bulk of which appeared to be between the cab and the collection area, crews worked for approximately three hours to extinguish the flames and overhaul the fire, according to Coates.

Costa Mesa fire personnel worked with California Highway Patrol officers to shut down multiple northbound lanes of the 405 Freeway, attempting to minimize the impact of the incident on surrounding traffic.

The driver of the truck managed to escape without injury, Coates said, and no other injuries were reported. Universal Waste Systems ultimately responded to the scene and towed the vehicle off the freeway to a nearby yard.

Support our coverage by becoming a digital subscriber.