LAKE ELSINORE (CBSLA.com) — Hours after a tanker truck hauling about 8,700 gallons of fuel erupted in flames Tuesday, traffic was still backed up for miles on Interstate 15 near Lake Elsinore.
The fire was reported at about 1:05 p.m. near Nichols Road, forcing the shutdown of Interstate 15 in both directions just north of Lake Elsinore.
By 3:00 p.m., the northbound lanes of the freeway had reopened. Shortly after, one lane of the southbound lanes reopened, too.
Witnesses said one of the big rig’s tires shredded and ignited the underbelly of the vehicle, after which flames rapidly spread to the trailer.
The driver managed to park the truck on the right shoulder of the freeway, then fled before his cab was overcome by flames, according to the CHP.
Riverside County firefighters reached the location a few minutes later.
More than 40 personnel – including nine engine crews and a truck company – were on scene, fire officials said.
A hazardous materials crew was cleaning up the site.
No injuries were reported.
Shortly before 10 p.m., traffic was still backed up to Corona on the southbound 15 Freeway. Northbound lanes were moving at a faster pace.
Many exasperated motorists told KCAL9’s Stacey Butler that they had been stuck in traffic for hours.
“I just want to go home,” one motorist said. “I’ve been up since 4:30 a.m.”
Another motorist, Anthony Alvero, was stuck on the side of the road after his car broke down.
“I’ve been in stop-and-go traffic for hours,” he said. “It was just too much for my car.”
Authorities were hoping to have a second southbound lane open by midnight, and all lanes open sometime Wednesday morning.
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