A fire in a truck carrying compressed hydrogen tanks caused the evacuation of people initially in a one-mile radius area of suburban Diamond Bar Sunday, and a county HazMat team was sent to the scene because of the danger of an explosion.

The fire broke out on the truck at about 1:20 p.m. at the intersection of South Brea Canyon Road and Golden Springs Drive, according to a Los Angeles County Fire Department dispatcher. That location is just south of the Riverside (60) Freeway and west of the Orange (57) Freeway, but traffic on that freeway was not impeded.

The CHP reported witnesses heard a small explosion.

County fire then dispatched a HazMat team to the site because of the possibility of an explosion, the dispatcher said. The truck was carrying about 20 tanks of hydrogen.

Firefighters managed to put out the truck fire shortly before 4 p.m., the fire department said.

Aerial TV footage showed the tanks were being cooled by water jets from two fire trucks, with firefighters walking up to the flame-scorched truck.

The truck’s trailer was carrying about 25 cylinders and seven or eight were compromised, according to the fire department. Only one tank was still leaking as of 6 p.m. The fire department plans to fill the cylinders with inert gas.

As of 8:30 p.m. there is still one tank leaking and authorities have decided to let that tank completely vent before taking further action, the fire department said.

About two hours after the fire started, sheriff’s deputies from the Diamond Bar/Walnut station began a evacuating residents within a half mile of the site, Deputy Kimberly Alexander said.

Firefighters have stabilized the hydrogen and the evacuation area was reduced to about 10 blocks from the site, according to the fire department.

Evacuation sites were set up at Diamond Bar High School in the 21400 block of Pathfinder Road and at Calvary Chapel Golden Springs in the 22300 block of Golden Springs Drive in Diamond Bar, the sheriff’s department said.

The site at Calvary Chapel was closed about 8 p.m. Only the evacuation center at Diamond Bar High School remains open, according to the fire department.

The California Highway Patrol has shut down the on and offramps on the eastbound Pomona (60) Freeway at Brea Canyon Road, CHP Officer Stephan Brandt said. There’s no word yet on when they will reopen.

–City News Service

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