All WB I-80 lanes reopened after Monday morning's big-rig fire near Bay Bridge

August 5, 2013 3:36:11 PM PDT
The California Highway Patrol has given the all-clear to reopen all WB I-80 lanes, after a day-long closure, following the big-rig fire near the Bay Bridge this morning. Two lanes of the Bay Bridge skyway at 5th Street in San Francisco were closed due to the accident. Drivers experienced heavy backups on the Bay Bridge and throughout the East Bay.

A big-rig caught fire in San Francisco Monday morning, causing a massive traffic backup coming off the Bay Bridge. We were expecting a nightmare. We were expecting traffic, but we didn't expect it to come from a big rig-fire.

What remains of the big-rig will be on the highway for awhile. Officials originally said it would remain there until noon, but now say it's expected to be there much later. The CHP says all lanes of the Bay Bridge west of Treasure Island at Fifth Street exit will not be opened until 4 p.m. while crews clean up the roadway and that three lanes will remain closed.

On the morning we expected BART to go on strike, we expected traffic on the Bay Bridge to be slow, stopped, gridlocked traffic.

However, then when the trains ran, after all, commuters assumed they'd received a reprieve.

The big-rig caught fire at 5:45 a.m. on westbound Highway 80 near the Fifth Street exit. Flames reached up to 30-feet tall, from the inferno on 18 wheels.

Martin Lee Smirl was commuting across the Bay Bridge during the fire and captured video of the fire with his cellphone.

And if you were driver Sergio Mata, you were thinking that this might not be your day.

""I never imagined it. It happened so fast," he said.

Mata says he felt a wobbly tire. He thinks it may have heated up, may have blown, and may have ignited the engine compartment.

Before long, flames spread to the trailer and cargo, which contained sushi, rice, and vinegar.

"The truck is extremely heavy now because of all the water and its contents is just soaked, so they're probably going to have to cut the trailer in half and start off loading the debris and it's going to take a significant amount of time," CHP officer Laura Clare said.

The good news is that no one was injured. But it's still a strong case for Murphy's Law, which states that whatever can go wrong, inevitably will, and did, even on a morning that began so surprisingly right.

Reporter: "If there had been a BART strike and we had this?"

"I would have said turn around and go home," Clare said.

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