Close call

One final and rather scary note from my Weekend in Shanghai. On the way to lunch on Sunday, we passed through a large bank of food stalls, apparently part of a regular weekend event. We had just talked a girl at a stall and were leaving when all of a sudden there was a loud explosion. We turned around to see that stall had burst into flames. Even though we were already some distance away, the heat was rather intense. Along with many others, we immediately left the area for safety. I sincerely hope no one was badly hurt, though I am especially worried for the girl who was inside the stand. It also hasn’t escaped me how things would be very different right now had that explosion happened only a minute earlier…

Seriousness with Highways: MacArthur Maze

I had planned to do a “fun with highways post” on the MacArthur maze, which connects highways I-80, I-580 and I-880 to the Bay Bridge in Oakland:

Well, it turns out not to be so “fun” at this time. A major tanker truck crash and explosion in the southest corner of the maze. The resulting conflagration on the elevated southbound I-880 melted the steel of the even more elevated eastboard connector from I-80 to I-580, which eventually collapsed onto the lower highway.

Please visit this article to view images. You can see a video taken by an eyewitness at the time of the fire. Watch it here instead of at the YouTube site in order to avoid the boorish and in some cases quite inappropriate comments.

This looks like it was rather intense, and scary. Indeed it was rather freaky to see the charred freeway photos last night when first logged on last night. I know that section of freeway quite well from my time in Berkeley and frequent trips to San Francisco and the East Bay since then. That section of southbound 880 had only re-opened a few years ago, having been closed and then rebuild after the infamous collapse of the 880 double-decker freeway in the 1989 earthquake.

Fortunately, the driver of the truck escaped with only moderate burns, and nobody else was hurt in either the fire or the collapse of the freeway. Presumably when you see something like that ahead of you, you opt not to keep heading into it. The area is also fairly spare industrial land, so no homes in West Oakland were threatened. Could have been a lot worse, I suppose…