Heavily traveled Interstate 15 will be closed in both directions in the Cajon Pass for as long as two days because of a huge fire that broke out at a bridge construction site Monday afternoon, state transportation officials said.
The fire at the Ranchero Road overpass in Hesperia created a traffic nightmare along the major artery that connects Southern California and Las Vegas. Vehicles in both directions were backed up for miles as firefighters battled the blaze at the massive wood-and-rebar construction site, officials said.
The flames were sparked early Monday afternoon by workers using torches to cut steel bars, the San Bernardino County Fire Department said.
Officials said the flames were stoked by strong winds. The fire caused a significant part of the overpass to collapse onto the freeway, officials said. Dozens of firefighters battled the blaze with limited access to water because the area is newly constructed, and the nearest hydrant is half a mile away, authorities said.
"It's not looking good," Caltrans spokeswoman Terri Kasinga said Monday afternoon.
The fire was still smoldering late Monday.
Motorists were advised to use alternative routes, including highways 138 and 18.
"If you do know alternate routes, you should take those routes," Fire Department spokeswoman Tracey Martinez told KTLA-TV Channel 5.
Times staff writer Robert J. Lopez and the Associated Press contributed to this report.