10 Freeway Reopens in East L.A. After Big Rig Fire Prompts Hourslong Closure

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The 10 Freeway reopened through East Los Angeles just before 4:30 p.m. Tuesday more than five hours after a big rig erupted in flames, prompting a closure of lanes that snarled traffic in the area.

Fire crews knocked down a big rig fire that erupted on the 10 Freeway near the 710 Freeway on Jan. 13, 2015. (Credit: KTLA)

Fire crews knocked down a big rig fire that erupted on the 10 Freeway near the 710 Freeway on Jan. 13, 2015. (Credit: KTLA)

The fire was reported in City Terrace shortly after 11 a.m. near the 710 Freeway connector, the California Highway Patrol's incident log stated. The area is near the Cal State Los Angeles campus.

A SigAlert was issued and initially all westbound lanes and two eastbound lanes of the 10 were closed just north of Eastern Avenue, according to the log.

All eastbound lanes were reopened as of 12:35 p.m., but the entire westbound freeway remained closed until just before 4:30 p.m., Caltrans stated in a series of tweets.

The 10 and 710 freeway connectors were also temporarily shut down, according to Caltrans. The fire occurred underneath the Eastern Avenue overpass, which was also temporarily shut down.

Traffic on both sides of the freeway appeared to be backed up for miles, aerial video from Sky5 showed. For hours, traffic was completely stopped on the westbound lanes, while vehicles were slowly moving their way through the two open lanes on the eastern side of the road.

A big rig caught fire on the 10 Freeway in City Terrace on Jan. 13, 2015. (Credit: Cynthia Gonzalez)

A big rig caught fire on the 10 Freeway in City Terrace on Jan. 13, 2015. (Credit: Cynthia Gonzalez)

All traffic was diverted to the 710.

Motorists were asked to avoid the area and take alternate routes to get to their destinations.

To bypass the area, CHP advised drivers heading west from the area to take  to take the 60 Freeway, Valley Boulevard to Main street toward the 5 Freeway or into downtown L.A., or Cesar Chavez Avenue.

It was not immediately known what prompted the big rig to catch fire, but CHP Officer Doris Peniche said the driver pulled over to the right shoulder after noticing the flames coming from the engine compartment.

"Upon exiting his rig, the engine compartment of the front portion of the big rig caught fire ... became fully engulfed in flames," she said.

No other vehicles were involved.

The big rig was carrying about 14,000 pounds of appliances at the time it caught fire.

Firefighters from the Los Angeles County Fire Department arrived on scene and extinguished the blaze, which had fully engulfed the cab, leaving it charred and mangled.

The big rig's driver managed to exit the vehicle safely,  CHP Officer Jennifer Cassiday said.

Fire inspectors worked to determine that the fire was not continuing to burn inside the casing of the freeway overpass.

Fire crews were at the scene of a big rig fire on the 10 Freeway in East L.A. on Jan. 13, 2015. (Credit: KTLA)

Fire crews were at the scene of a big rig fire on the 10 Freeway in East L.A. on Jan. 13, 2015. (Credit: KTLA)

"We're looking at the vent holes underneath the freeway overpass that are still having little puffs of smoke that come out periodically," county Fire Department Capt. Keith Mora said. "The freeway does have a wooden casing on the side when they built it, so we're concerned the fire may have gotten inside that casing and it's still smoldering within, which could compromise the integrity of the freeway."

Officials later confirmed that the fire had made its way into the casing of the bridge, and crews were able to put out hot spots, Mora said.

Caltrans engineers planned to check out the bridge to make sure it was safe and sound before westbound lanes reopened. At about 4:10 p.m., the agency said on Twitter that the Eastern Avenue bridge had been found to be sound.

KTLA's Jennifer Thang contributed to this story.

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