(Updates with some freeway lanes reopened)
LOS ANGELES, April 25 Two big rigs and several
cars collided on a freeway north of downtown Los Angeles on
Tuesday, sparking an explosion and fire, killing at least one
person and forcing authorities to shut down two major arteries
into the city for hours.
Several other people were injured in the fiery crash, which
sent plumes of thick black smoke billowing into the sky, said
Officer Kevin Tao of the California Highway Patrol. The Los
Angeles Times reported that nine people were hurt.
Local television images showed firefighters pouring water on
the burned-out hulk of a tanker truck, a small car wedged
underneath. A black pick-up truck that had been towing a trailer
had come to rest on top of a center median, it's rear wheels
well off the ground.
Local KTLA-TV reported that drivers not involved in the
wreck fled their cars, running off the freeway onto a nearby
golf course to escape the flames and carnage.
The crash, which took place shortly before 11 a.m. local
time, prompted authorities to close Interstate 5 in both
directions north of downtown Los Angeles and the resulting
clean-up and investigation also jammed the Ventura (134) Freeway
and nearby surface streets.
The northbound side of I-5 were reopened several hours later
but southbound lanes were expected to remain closed through the
evening rush hour, the CHP said.
"We're advising motorists to try to avoid the area as much
as possible," Tao said. "They may have to find alternate routes.
Be patient with us, we're doing our best to get the lanes opened
up as soon as possible."
(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Chris Reese and Andrew