The 15 freeway near Lake Elsinore was shut down in both directions for a time Tuesday afternoon when a tanker carrying thousands of gallons of fuel caught fire, the California Highway Patrol said.
About 1 p.m., a tanker carrying 8,700 gallons of gas caught fire in the southbound No. 3 lane near Lake Avenue, CHP Officer Devon Boatman said. The driver managed to escape without injury, but the blaze forced authorities to stop traffic in both directions as they fought the flames and black smoke billowed into the sky.
Northbound lanes were reopened about 2:40 p.m., but southbound traffic was expected to be diverted off the highway until at least 5:30 p.m. Boatman said.
A cause for the fire is under investigation. Witnesses reported seeing sparks under the truck after one of its tires shredded on the highway, CHP officials said.