A tanker leaking fluid ignited and sent a large plume of smoke into the sky on Wednesday night.
The fire started burning shortly before 6 p.m. on Palm Avenue near the intersection of Interstate 805 in the Otay Mesa community of San Diego. Fluid leaking out of the second container of a dual tanker truck burned in the container, in a trail down nearby gutters and in the storm drains for quite some time until firefighters put all the flames except those inside the tander. San Diego Fire Rescue spokesman Maurice Luque said the burning fuel had caused explosions in nearby storm drains. The first container, however, did not catch fire.
The driver was taken from the scene for treatment, but no other injuries were reported. Luque said 8,800 gallons of fluid were being transported to an Arco station by the truck before the fire.
"All of a sudden I heard this loud explosion and all this fire and smoke,"said Shapour Etmad. "It was really big and all the grass was burning."
A nearby shopping center and health care center were evacuated while a hook-and-ladder truck blasted water from quite a height and distance away.
Residents who live to the east of the fire told NBCSanDiego that the only entrance to their community was blocked by the burning truck.
By 7 p.m. firefighters were pouring water on the last of the flames, having prevented the second container from ever igniting.
Witnesses said the tanker overturned as the driver was making a turn at the intersection of Palm Avenue and Dennery Road.
Investigators are still trying to determine if speed played a role.