LOS ANGELES (CBS) — A tanker truck fire has caused substantial damage and massive traffic jams on the Pomona (60) Freeway in Montebello Wednesday.

The freeway was closed in both directions between the San Gabriel and Garfield exits. Westbound drivers could get on the freeway at Garfield and motorists going eastbound could get on the freeway at the San Gabriel onramp.

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“We anticipate that this closure is going to remain in effect into the early morning hours,” California Highway Patrol Sgt. Denise Joslin said. “We encourage motorists to take alternate routes of travel or to take public transportation.”

Cars were backed up for miles as the evening’s commuters tried to make their way home.


“At this time, we’re off-loading what’s remaining of the gasoline in the tanker,” Montebello Fire Chief Tim Wessel said during a press conference Wednesday night. “We had 8,800 gallons of gasoline.”

“Once we off-load the remainder of the gasoline and we deem the site safe then we will allow Cal Trans to get in to start doing their evaluation of the bridge. It is still a very unsafe scene and we don’t want any accidents to happen.”

Wessel said crews were working to stop the run-off from getting into the storm drains.

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The fire was reported to police by several drivers at about 12:10 p.m. Wednesday.

(credit: CBS)

Plumes of thick black smoke engulfed the area as firefighters worked to extinguish the inferno, an effort that took more than an hour.

The burning tanker was partially beneath a segment of Paramount Boulevard crossing over the freeway. Sources told KCAL9 that the fire devastated the bridge, which had no concrete left underneath.

Fire crews sprayed a foam-like substance on the fire and by 1:20 p.m. appeared to have knocked down most of the flames.

Two people in the cab of the truck managed to get out safely, CHP Officer Vince Ramirez told KCAL9. The preliminary investigation indicated that the truck’s brakes may have overheated, Ramirez said.

Crews were working into the night to clear the hazardous site.

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