A big rig carrying sushi and rice burst into flames near the San Francisco end of the Bay Bridge, slowing traffic to a crawl in all but two westbound lanes, triggering a massive backup for hours, authorities said.
As of midday, three westbound lanes of I-80 were still blocked, and the California Highway Patrol was estimating that they wouldn't reopen until about 3 p.m.
The truck was driving west across the bridge around 5:45 a.m. when a front tire blew out, CHP Officer Michael Ferguson said.
The big-rig driver was able to pull over to the right shoulder of the highway just west of Fremont Street, and when he got out, he discovered that smoke was coming from underneath the vehicle.
The truck then became engulfed in flames. The blaze was extinguished more than an hour later, at 6:53 a.m., San Francisco fire officials said. No one was injured.
The two right lanes of westbound Highway 80 were closed for hours, and a third lane was also blocked late Monday morning while crews removed diesel fuel from the vehicle, cleaned up the scene and worked to move the big-rig from the roadway, Ferguson said.
He said the truck was carrying Asian food supplies such as fish, sushi and rice, and that the food had absorbed much of the water used to put out the fire, making the truck heavier.
The CHP had initially hoped to have the highway cleared by noon, but Ferguson said crews now estimate the cleanup could last until 3 p.m.
He said around midday that one westbound lane remained open, but authorities are encouraging motorists to seek alternate routes.
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