The westbound 10 Freeway in East Los Angeles reopened just before 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, more than five hours after flames engulfed a big-rig and snarled traffic on both sides of the busy roadway.
Los Angeles County firefighters responded just after 11 a.m. to the burning truck, which ignited after the driver stopped under the North Eastern Avenue overpass, about a quarter of a mile west of the 710 Freeway, said county fire Inspector Rick Flores.
The westbound 10 freeway and the Eastern Avenue overpass reopened following inspection by state engineers, said California Department of Transportation spokesman Patrick Chandler. Two eastbound lanes had also been closed but were reopened about 12:30 p.m.
The Campus Road on-ramp remained closed as hazardous materials crews continued removing diesel fuel that had leaked from the truck onto the pavement, Chandler said.
The freeway was not damaged in the blaze, but the overpass sustained cosmetic damage, Chandler said. Crews will return later to clean soot from the underside of the bridge.
What prompted the hours-long delay was uncertainty over whether the fire was extinguished. The truck fire was put out promptly, but flames caught at least some of the wood frame built into the bridge, which was built in the 1950s, Chandler said.
As traffic backed up more than four miles into East L.A., the county Fire Department’s Urban Search and Rescue team drilled holes in the overpass and inserted fiber optic cameras to determine whether the fire was burning, Flores said.
Caltrans engineers conducted sound and visual tests on both the westbound 10 Freeway and the overpass, spokeswoman Lauren Wonder said.
It’s unclear what sparked the fire. The California Highway Patrol has launched an investigation into the incident.
The truck was carrying washing machines, TVs and other appliances, Flores said. The driver was uninjured.