Fiery Freeway Crash May Affect Monday Morning Commute

Engineers were inspecting a major Los Angeles-area freeway tunnel that was shuttered ahead of Monday morning's commute.

By Ron Rokhy, Reggie Kumar, Jason Kandel and Willian Avila
|  Monday, Jul 15, 2013  |  Updated 6:12 AM PDT
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The tunnel on the Glendale (2) Freeway at the Golden State (5) Freeway interchange was expected to be closed for at least two weeks after a fuel tanker truck crashed and caught fire, spilling some 8,500 gallons of gas, authorities said. Reggie Kumar reports for NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on Sunday, July 14, 2013.

The tunnel on the Glendale (2) Freeway at the Golden State (5) Freeway interchange was expected to be closed for at least two weeks after a fuel tanker truck crashed and caught fire, spilling some 8,500 gallons of gas, authorities said. Reggie Kumar reports for NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on Sunday, July 14, 2013.

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Photos and Videos

RAW VIDEO: Fiery Big Rig Crash Backs Up Traffic

A big rig filled with 8,500 gallons of gas exploded in flames on the Glendale (2) Freeway, jamming traffic and causing fears of environmental damage from runoff into the nearby LA River on Saturday, July 13, 2013.

Fiery Tanker Truck Crash Spills Fuel into River, Closes Freeway

A fuel tanker crashed near Dodger Stadium and spilled fuel into the LA River, raising concerns were raised Saturday about an extreme public hazard at storm drains and manhole covers due to potentially explosive runoff. Tena Ezzeddine reports for NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on Saturday, July 13, 2013.
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Engineers were inspecting a major Los Angeles-area freeway tunnel ahead of Monday morning's commute after a tanker truck blew a tire, crashed and set the structure ablaze.

The fiery Saturday morning crash happened in a tunnel on the Glendale (2) Freeway at the Golden State (5) Freeway interchange. The fire was fueled by some 8,500 gallons of gas, firefighters said.

The tunnel was expected to be closed for at least two weeks as Caltrans engineers examine the tunnel’s core to determine the extent of the damage. Officials didn't have an exact time frame for when it would reopen.

Officials, meanwhile, hoped to reopen all lanes of the 5 Freeway in the area for commuters Monday morning.

Motorists were advised on Sunday to use alternate routes, including exits on Fletcher and Riverside drives. They also recommended people use buses and commuter trains to get through the heavily traveled route which links the suburbs north of LA with downtown.

The closure affected traffic for drivers heading to Dodger Stadium over the weekend.

Some 300,000 motorists travel that stretch of 5 Freeway every day, officials said.

The tanker truck driver, identified as 52-year-old Jose Castanon of Bellflower, told authorities that he blew a tire before crashing and managed to get out of his truck, which exploded into flames, with only minor injuries.

Before Saturday's fire, there were three other major freeway crashes involving big rigs that prompted freeway closures and heavily damaged roadways.

Three people died, including a 38-year-old male truck driver and his 6-year-old male passenger,  and 10 people were injured in a fiery tunnel crash between two big rigs at an interchange for the I-5 and Antelope Valley freeways in Newhall on Oct. 12, 2007.

A stretch of the Ventura (134) Freeway at the I-5 was shut down for hours in April 2012 when a suspected drunken motorist hit a twin tanker truck carrying gas that exploded in flames, burning an overpass.

In November 2012, 11 big rigs collided in two separate crashes at the same Newhall interchange that was the site of the fatal 2007 crash. One trucker was injured in the 2012 crash.

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