Big rig fire forced I-580 shut down in San Rafael

SAN RAFAEL, Calif. (KGO) -- Early Friday morning a United Parcel Service big-rig crashed, causing a full freeway closure on I-580, before the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge. The closure caused a huge backup in the area and many drivers were forced to just sit and wait for hours until the road was repaired.

The crash happened at the Main Street off-ramp, near San Quentin Prison.

By 6:30 p.m., all westbound lanes on I-580 near the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge reopened. Hours earlier, all eastbound lanes were opened and traffic flowed smoothly by the evening commute hours.

Eight hundred packages in the front trailer burned after the fuel tank caught fire. The blaze leaked diesel fuel, which got into the pavement and that forced Caltrans to rip it all up and lay down more.

"What we are fortunate in all of this is [the driver] didn't go over the center divide into opposing lanes of traffic," said Andrew Barclay with the CHP.

One of the big-rig's two trailers, which contained 800 packages in the front trailer, caught fire, said Barclay.

"I saw a coffee table, books, shoes and clothing. We're not aware of any chemicals in the trailer," Barclay said.

The westbound big-rig struck and drove along the concrete center divider for about 400 feet around 5:26 a.m. spilling diesel fuel along the way, Barclay said.

The westbound lane was damaged during the crash and Caltrans crews had to repave the roadway.

The driver, who was not injured, said the big-rig started jerking before the crash, Barclay said. Tests showed he was not driving under the influence, but the CHP will continue investigating what led to the crash.

Bay City news contributed to this report.
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