Major tunnel 30 miles north of downtown Los Angels destroyed by explosion–flames pour out of both ends.

Another dramatic explosion on a major U.S. interstate highway.
Terrorisim? Don’t even ask.

By Mick Gregory

Interstate 5 is a key route connecting Southern and Northern California, as well as a major commuter link between Los Angeles and its northern suburbs. The affected stretch of freeway carries about 225,000 vehicles a day, and there are likely to be huge traffic jams in the area if it is still closed when people return to work Monday.

Several burned alive in explosion. Firefighters could find more bodies as they explored the charred tunnel. They hope to finish the search by Sunday morning, said Deputy Fire Chief John Tripp.

That was last week. Today, hundreds of thousands have been evacuated by firestorms.

The pileup in the southbound truck tunnel of Interstate 5 began about 11 p.m. Friday when two big rigs collided on the rain-slickened highway about 30 miles north of downtown Los Angeles. As crashes continued throughout the 550-foot-long tunnel, five tractor-trailers burst into flames, and the fire quickly spread.

The cause of the crash is being investigated.

The pileup blocked traffic for miles in all directions as drivers had to explore neighborhood streets and mountain roads to get around the firestorm. It took an hour to travel 100 yards on one street just down the hill from the crash.

At the crash site Saturday, the charred skeletons of a few big rigs peeked out of the tunnel’s south end. At least one was carrying produce, and a smoldering load of cabbage lay on the pavement. A pile of scorched truck debris lay scattered yards from a tunnel wall.

The fire spread Friday night, flames shot out of both ends of the tunnel, rising as high as 100 feet into the air, firefighters at the scene said.

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