Driver narrowly escapes big-rig inferno

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LOS ANGELES – The driver of a big-rig that caught fire on a SoCal freeway said he escaped just before flames consumed the vehicle on Monday afternoon, KTLA reported.

The vehicle fire was reported about 12:45 p.m. on the southbound 405 Freeway in the Sepulveda Pass at Mulholland Drive, between the Skirball Cultural Center and the Getty Center (map), according to the California Highway Patrol traffic incident log.

“I was just coming up the 405 and the truck started catching on fire, inside, real quick,” said truck driver Raul Villagrana, who spoke at the side of the freeway. “I just pulled over and got out the truck … it was too fast, too quick.”

He didn’t even have a chance to turn the vehicle off before jumping out of the cab in a hurry, he said.

“Thank God I did,” Villagrana said. “I barely got out.”

Responding Los Angeles firefighters rushed toward the truck, which was quickly engulfed in flames that towered some 25 feet, video from the scene showed. Smoke billowed above the blaze.

The truck was empty and tank was not full, Villagrana said.

The blaze prompted a SigAlert, with multiple lanes blocked for more than two hours. As of 3 p.m., southbound traffic was jammed from north of the 101 Freeway.

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