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La Jolla grease spill causes bad smell, lane closures

A spill from a truck transporting grease from local restaurants caused a foul smell and spot closures of lanes between La Jolla Boulevard and Torrey Pines Road in La Jolla about noon Monday.

“One of the trucks that services restaurants, cleans out their grease traps where there’s quite a bit of old and sometimes rancid grease, left a valve open and tracked it up La Jolla Boulevard onto Pearl Street and then onto Girard Avenue before he discovered the valve was open,” said Capt. Kyle Passini, Fire Engine #9 of the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department on the scene.

“Wherever he stopped there was a fairly large spill. Wherever he picked up speed it wasn’t so dense. What we’re doing now is closing off those lanes.”

Maurice Luque, San Diego Fire-Rescue Department spokesman, said a call came in at 11:53 a.m. Monday, Sept. 21 that a truck with Darling written on its side headed north on Torrey Pines near the UCSD campus had spilled something earlier at Nautilus Street and Winamar Avenue (WindanSea).

“At 12:03 p.m. traffic control began due to unsafe street conditions because of the grease,” he said. “Street sweepers were dispatched to the area at 12:13 p.m. and police began street and lane closures with red cones.”

Passini said the spill was more of an annoyance than a health threat. “It would be more of a slip or traffic hazard,” he said. “It was just grease. It wouldn’t present a toxic kind of inhalation.”

Passini added sand was being brought in to absorb the grease to help street sweepers pick it up and transport it away.

The Fire-Rescue captain said the foul smell caused them to believe the spill was raw sewage at first, “until we found out the company that had the spill only transports grease.”

The truck carrying the grease had reportedly made a stop at Mandarin House restaurant at 6765 La Jolla Blvd.