LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A stretch of Los Angeles freeway will be closed for several hours on Sunday while authorities blow up three compressed hydrogen tanks that were damaged in an explosion and fire, officials said.

The operation is intended to render the tanks safe following the August 9 blast at an alternative energy plant, the Los Angeles Police Department said in a statement.

A short stretch of the Foothill (210) Freeway will be closed in both directions, along with a portion of a nearby street, while the police bomb squad ruptures the tanks with an explosive charge.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), California Highway Patrol and Los Angeles City Fire Department will also be at the plant in Sylmar, about 15 miles north of downtown Los Angeles.

Officials say there are no residences in the immediate area and nearby businesses have been told of the planned operation. It is scheduled to begin at 6 a.m. and last for at least several hours.

Harry Allen, emergency response section chief for the EPA, said it was possible that one or more of the tanks were empty but that moving them would be too risky.

(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb)