60 shutdown: Traffic jammed, bridge demolition expected

60 Freeway

Grant Slater/KPCC

Workers are preparing to demolish the bridge over the 60 Freeway by laying down sand and inspecting the structure of the bridge.

The 60 is shut down and will be indefinitely, making for a less-than-pleasant commute for drivers around the city, but especially those driving into L.A. this morning from the Inland Empire or Pomona Valley. A California Highway patrol told the L.A. Times the freeway would likely be closed "into the weekend" and demolition of a damaged overpass was scheduled to begin this morning.

In the meantime, motorists should map out alternate routes or use public transit. You can follow live updates of the traffic situation and best alternate routes at the San Gabriel Valley Tribune.

The indefinite closure of an 8-mile stretch was ordered after a double-tanker truck caught fire on the eastbound 60 partially beneath the Paramount Boulevard overcrossing shortly after noon Wednesday. Since the 60 is a major artery, the closure is expected to trigger traffic nightmares, especially since it will put added pressure on other freeways.

Clouds of thick, black smoke wafted skyward as some 200 firefighters from Montebello and the Los Angeles County Fire Department converged on the area to fight the blaze, which left scores of motorists stranded for hours and a firefighter with a leg fracture. No other injuries were reported.

The area from the Long Beach (710) Freeway to the San Gabriel River (605) Freeway is the section that is closed. A preliminary investigation indicated the truck's brakes may have overheated, CHP Officer Vince Ramirez told KCAL9.

Fire crews sprayed a foam-like substance on the fire and by 1 p.m. appeared to have knocked down most of the flames. But then, the fire flared up anew.

"The wind conditions were such, it was kind of pushing the fire to the south and to the east,'' said Montebello Fire Department Chief Tim Wessel. "Unfortunately, that put the main part of the fire further under the bridge, causing further damage to the bridge.''

Around 6 p.m. Wednesday, firefighters were still "in the process of offloading the remainder of 8,800 gallons of gasoline'' in the tanker,'' Wessel said.

He said firefighters did "a good job of dyking and containing the runoff'' to prevent a mixture of gasoline and firefighting foam to pour into storm drains and pollute ocean water.

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