LOS ANGELES — Traffic was snarled for miles Saturday after Interstate 5 near downtown Los Angeles was closed for several hours because a tanker truck flipped, spilled its load of gasoline and caught fire at an interchange, according California Highway Patrol officials.
Firefighters responded to a call at 10:31 a.m. that fire had erupted inside a tunnel-like underpass connecting southbound State Route 2 and southbound Interstate 5 near Glendale.
The fire ignited brush near the freeway and the tanker’s 7,500-gallon load of gasoline flowed into the Los Angeles River and underground systems.
Heavy traffic was reported in areas surrounding downtown, including Dodger Stadium where a game was scheduled to start at 4 p.m. Backups were reported on U.S. Highway 101, which many drivers turned to as an alternative route.
CHP’s early reports of a fatality in the tunnel were corrected after further investigation by fire officials. No injuries have been reported.
Fire officials warned of public hazards near manhole covers and storm drains in the area because of explosive runoff could cause flames to erupt from the underground passages.
Silver Lake resident Geoff Reyes said he was working in his yard when he heard loud blasts from the site of the accident, about 300 yards away.
After seeing smoke rise, he and many neighbors walked closer to the fire to get a better look before they heard two or three loud pops.
“It was kinda weird because the fire had been going on for a while and we thought there were no more explosions left,” Reyes said.
Not long after, Reyes, his wife and two kids left their house to avoid inhaling foul fumes and were surprised to find police had blocked off their street with yellow tape– even though his neighbors hadn’t been evacuated.
Police said the popping noises were manhole covers popping off, and warned him to stay away from them, Reyes said.
Reyes said he and his family were told they could leave, but couldn’t come back until the area was deemed safe.