LAKE ELSINORE, Calif. (KABC) -- A gas tanker caught fire on the southbound 15 Freeway in Lake Elsinore, spewing thick black smoke and backing up traffic for miles on Tuesday.
The blaze, which started as a tire fire, was reported shortly after 1 p.m. north of Nichols Road. Officials said the tanker was carrying 8,700 gallons of fuel when it caught fire.
Fortunately, the driver was able to escape without injury after he pulled over onto the right shoulder of the freeway.
The California Highway Patrol initially shut down both directions of the freeway as crews attempted to get the fire under control. The fire was knocked down around 3 p.m., and the northbound lanes were reopened, but traffic remained sluggish in the area.
A hazardous materials crew worked to cleanup the site after the fire was knocked down. Authorities assessed the damage to the freeway, which would take hours to repair.