NB 5 Freeway and 2 Freeway to remain closed Monday after tanker fire


The northbound 5 Freeway is shut down at Fletcher Drive, and the 2 Freeway is closed at the 5.

California Department of Transportation spokesman Patrick Chandler said all northbound lanes of the 5 Freeway will remain closed Monday, as will two southbound lanes at the underpass connecting the 5 Freeway and the 2.

A tanker spilled about 8,700 gallons of gasoline and burst into flames in the Elysian Park area of Los Angeles Saturday. The fire caused extensive damage to the connector tunnel and the structural columns that support the 5 Freeway.

Chandler says crews are working to build a temporary support system which won't be finished in time for the Monday morning commute.

"Because the fire was so intense, the concrete has become brittle, almost like popcorn," said Chandler. "They're able to hit it with a hammer and it falls off and it's not supposed to do that."

Chandler says putting thousands of cars on the structure at a time wouldn't be safe.

"At Caltrans, safety is our No. 1 priority so we can't put vehicles on here safely," said Chandler.

The flames reached the Los Angeles River and thick black smoke billowed out of storm drains, frightening those in a nearby neighborhood.

LAFD says all the fuel burned or spilled into storm drains and the adjacent Los Angeles River. Firefighters are working with local, state and federal environment officials to assess the situation.

No injuries were reported. The driver who's tire blew off was able to escape.

Traffic on the northbound 5 Freeway is being diverted onto the northbound 2 Freeway. Only two southbound lanes of the 5 are open at Fletcher Drive.

Commuters on the 2 north are being diverted onto the 5 south. Traffic on the southbound 2 is being diverted onto the northbound 5. The southbound 2 transition to the southbound 5 is closed.

Drivers on the northbound 5 Freeway can exit at Riverside Drive and turn left, make a right onto Fletcher Drive and re-enter the freeway.

People driving southbound on the 2 Freeway can exit at Fletcher Drive and make a left, turn right onto Riverside Drive and enter the southbound 5 Freeway.

Caltrans is advising commuters to take alternate routes Monday morning and possible the next few days. Drivers looking to avoid the area completely can take the 101 or 134 freeways.

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