Gas tanker fire closes southbound lanes on I-15 in Lake Elsinore

LAKE ELSINORE (KUSI) – Traffic was blocked Tuesday afternoon on the I-15 in Lake Elsinore after a gas tanker caught fire.

The non-injury fire was reported at 1:05 p.m. on southbound I-15, near Nichols Road, according to the California Highway Patrol.

Ten minutes after the fire began, CHP officers closed both sides of the interstate. A SigAlert was still in effect as of 2:45 p.m., though the northbound side of the freeway was reopened by that time, with traffic crawling along the corridor under CHP escort.

According to witnesses, one of the big rig’s tires shredded and ignited the underbelly of the vehicle, after which flames rapidly spread to the 8,700 gallons of unleaded petrol in the trailer.

The driver managed to park the truck on the right shoulder of the freeway, then fled before his cab was overcome by flames, according to the CHP.

Riverside County firefighters reached the location a few minutes later. Nine engine crews and a truck company, numbering about 44 personnel, were at the scene, an agency spokeswoman said.

Freeway traffic was clogged into Murrieta to the south and the Temescal Valley to the north, the CHP said.

Officers directed traffic off the freeway at Nichols, as well as Lake Street to the north, turning both roadways into virtual parking lots.

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