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Los Angeles area freeway shut down through weekend after big rig tanker erupts into flames
MONTEBELLO, Calif. (AP) ' A 10-mile stretch of a major freeway will remain closed through the weekend after the fierce heat of a burning gasoline tanker sent chunks of concrete raining from an overpass, authorities said Thursday.
Commuters were urged to take extra time, use alternate routes or use public transit as crews cleaned up the site prior to inspecting the bridge over State Highway 60, a major artery linking Los Angeles with the San Gabriel Valley and eastern counties.
Crews removed damaged pavement under the partially melted truck. They planned to pressure-wash the overpass and take a core sample to determine whether the bridge remains safe, California Department of Transportation spokesman Patrick Chandler told KTTV-TV.
Inspectors were unable to get to the overpass for hours after the crash because of the concrete remained intensely hot and because of fuel that spilled from the tanker, Chandler said.
The section will remain closed throughout the weekend, California Highway Patrol Officer Ed Jacobs said.
TV reports showed bumper-to-bumper traffic jamming Interstate 10, which usually is jammed during the morning commute. Traffic was busier than usual but moving smoothly and "there's not really a backup," Jacobs said.
The double tanker was hauling 8,800 gallons of gasoline when it caught fire shortly after noon Wednesday. The intense flames melted the truck, left a crater in the roadway and boiled water in the concrete of the Paramount Boulevard overpass, causing chunks to pop off.
A Montebello firefighter received a broken leg fighting the blaze and thousands of motorists were stuck in place for hours.
The cause of the fire can't be confirmed until inspectors look at the melted truck. Investigators were looking at all possibilities, including whether the truck's brakes may have overheated.