The multi-vehicle collision occurred at about 3:45 a.m. near Telegraph Road, according to the California Highway Patrol, which issued a SigAlert.
CHP officials said a hit-and-run driver smacked into the back-end of a Nissan Stanza, which set off a chain-reaction crash involving half a dozen vehicles. A Ford Fusion caught fire, and the driver was able to escape in time. The driver of the Stanza, however, was killed at the scene, officials said.
"It's a very, very sad situation. Someone is going to work, mind their own business - it appears to be - and suddenly this happens...We have to allow ourselves plenty of space between the cars in front of us to maybe give us a bit more time to react if something like this happens in front of us," said CHP officer Al Perez.
Several other people involved in the crash suffered major injuries, officials added.
Officers said the driver fled the scene and was at large. The cause of the crash was not immediately known.
Southbound traffic was temporarily diverted from the 605 at Telegraph, and AIR7 HD video showed vehicles backed up for miles. All northbound lanes remained open.
The SigAlert was canceled as of 9 a.m. and the lane closure ended, the CHP said.
SIGALERT CANCELLATION: SB I-605 AT TELEGRAPH RD ALL LANES ARE OPEN— CHP PIO - LA County (@CHPsouthern) October 11, 2016