LA Area Freeway Fire Strands Thousands Of Cars

December 15, 2011

Thousands of motorists were stuck on a 10-mile stretch of freeway near Los Angeles after a big-rig tanker truck burst into flames Wednesday. No one was injured.

California Highway Patrol officers backed traffic up and turned it around, using offramps to guide the cars onto clogged surface streets. Meanwhile, flood control crews and officials from the California Department of Fish & Game worked to contain toxic runoff from the fire on State Highway 60 between interstates 710 and 605.

“Our main concern is runoff,” said Montebello Fire Chief Tim Wessel.

The double tanker truck burned to the pavement under the overpass. Many motorists called the patrol reporting explosions. “That was concrete in the bridge exploding from the extreme heat,” Wessel said.

The freeway was littered with concrete chunks, foam and melted truck.

The noontime fire under the Paramount Boulevard overpass spewed choking black smoke into the Montebello area. Wessel said about 200 firefighters responded to the third-alarm fire.

CHP Officer Saul Gomez said he didn’t know when the freeway would reopen, “but we won’t put lives at risk to reopen a freeway.”

Transportation officials were waiting to inspect the freeway and the bridge, he said.

The cause of the fire can’t be confirmed until inspectors look at the melted truck, Gomez said.

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