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60 Freeway to be closed 'into the weekend' as bridge demolished

December 15, 2011 |  5:54 am

Tanker explosion on 60 Freeway
The 60 Freeway will remain closed in both directions between the 605 and the 710 freeways Thursday morning as work crews begin the demolition of the Paramount Boulevard bridge following Wednesday's fuel tanker fire.

Demolition of the bridge is scheduled to begin at 6 a.m., according to a California Highway Patrol report. On Wednesday night, crews were maneuvering heavy equipment, brought in from Irvine, into place to begin the work, the CHP said.

It's unclear how long the work will take and how long the freeway will remain closed.

PHOTOS: Fiery crash on the 60 Freeway

"We expect this closure is going to continue into the weekend," CHP Sgt. Denise Joselin told CBS 2 News.

To commuters, she said: "Give yourself plenty of time this morning." About 220,000 motorists use the freeway every day, state transportation officials said.

The closure of the freeway will likely cause enormous delays Thursday morning on other freeways, principally the 5, 10, 710 and 605, officials said, urging commuters to take alternate east-west routes, or Metrolink on their way into work.

Trains were been standing-room only Thursday morning, CBS 2 reported.

The fuel tanker, which has now been removed from the scene, ignited while heading east on the freeway shortly after noon Wednesday. The vehicle, carrying 8,800 gallons of gasoline, eventually came to a stop under the bridge and burned for several hours. The driver and a passenger were able to exit the truck without injury.

However, the inferno sent billowing black smoke into the sky that was visible for miles, stranding hundreds of motorists. The fire clogged nearby freeways and side streets for miles around, as fire crews labored to put out the flames.

It's unclear what caused the fire. No one was hurt in the incident, though a firefighter fractured his leg in the aftermath, said Montebello Fire Chief Tim Wessel.


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Photo: A gasoline tanker caught fire Wednesday on the eastbound 60 Freeway under the Paramount Boulevard bridge. Credit: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times