Car fire snarls traffic in Caldecott Tunnel

A truck fire inside the Caldecott Tunnel on Tuesday created a massive traffic jam in the East Bay.

Oakland Fire Battalion Chief Frank Tijiboy said that around 9:54 a.m., reports came in about a vehicle fire inside the second bore of the tunnel.

He said fire crews observed thick black smoke coming from the bore, and about 75 to 100 people were "evacuated." Some motorists left their cars inside the tunnel.

Tijiboy said fire crews went inside to extinguish the blaze and determined there were no injuries.

The cause of the vehicle fire, which involved a pickup truck, remains under investigation. However, there were reports of sparks coming from the vehicle prior to the blaze, Tijiboy said.

He credited the activation of the jet fans inside the Caldecott Tunnel with helping bring the situation under control.

"The Caldecott Tunnel Control did a fantastic job of activating the fans, which blew all the smoke to the Orinda side, which allowed the occupants to evacuate back towards Oakland. That allowed our crews to go inside and extinguish the fire. That worked very well," said Tijiboy.

Image 1 of 7

Backed up traffic because of a car fire inside the Caldecott Tunnel. June 4, 2024 

More than 40 vehicles were left in the tunnel as fire crews put out the blaze, but Caltrans crews and the California Highway Patrol were able to go back in and retrieve them.

Images from Caltrans cameras showed cars backed up in both directions.

The lanes have since been reopened.

SkyFox flew overhead, showing cars backed up from Oakland trying to get to Orinda and beyond.