EAST LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — The westbound lanes of the 10 Freeway reopened late Tuesday afternoon hours after a big-rig fire shut down the thoroughfare in East Los Angeles.
The closure at Eastern Avenue near the 710 Freeway interchange was reported shortly after 11 a.m. due to a big-rig fire that reduced visibility, according to the California Highway Patrol.
Two eastbound lanes were shut down until around 12:35 p.m., while the westbound lanes reopened just after 4:30 p.m. after a Caltrans inspection declared that the overpass was structurally sound.
The fire also shut several streets near Cal State Los Angeles, causing several students to be late to class.
“I parked in a residential area, which I never do, and I had to walk all the way across to campus,” said Andrea Roman, a Cal State LA student.
Martin Rodriguez, another student, said: “When I got there, I had to sit down on the floor so I can like, catch my breath. I was a little sweaty.”
A photograph posted on Twitter captured flames shooting out of an engine cab around 11 a.m.
“As soon as he observed the flames, he immediately pulled over to the right shoulder and he exited the vehicle,” Doris Peniche-Gomez of the California Highway Patrol said of the driver.
No one was injured, but the flames caused flare-ups in the underbelly of the Eastern Avenue overpass built in the 1950s.
“When they built these bridges a long time ago, they used wood to basically pour the concrete, so a lot of these bridges still have wood left inside from the original construction,” Caltrans spokesman Patrick Chandler said.
Meanwhile, Chandler tells KNX 1070’s Ron Kilgore that truck fires on Southland freeways occur about once a week.
Chandler said the bridge sustained only cosmetic damage as a result of Tuesday’s fire.
“We’re going to come back out here another time for a closure late at night, repair the small section of the bridge, and clear off all the soot that’s on the bridge,” he said.
The cause of the truck fire is under investigation, the CHP said.