One lane now open on I-77 Northbound after fire in East River Mountain Tunnel
Burned truck is pulled out of the tunnel
Courtesy Brad Panovich
Courtesy Brad Panovich
Truck inside the tunnel
Ken King, Regional Operations Director with the Virginia Department of Transportation told 59News the right lane on the Northbound side of I-77 at the East River Mountain Tunnel opened at 8:50 Saturday morning. Traffic is running smoothly on the Southbound side. There are delays heading into the tunnel on the Northbound side. King said he still encourages motorists to use alternate routes and detours if they can, to ensure the safety of the workers in the tunnel.
The southbound lanes of the East River Mountain Tunnel on I-77 opened just after 10 pm Friday night. Crews on the scene said two firefighters are in the hospital being treated for smoke inhalation. Both of those firefighters are from West Virginia.
Crews gave us pictures showing the charred remains of the truck inside the tunnel. They said it was carrying pre-casting stone used for construction. According to Ed Sanderson with the Lambert Wrecking Service, the driver thinks that the turbo went out in his truck, which ignited an engine fire. The driver tells him that the fuel tank exploded, but he was able to make it out safely.
The northbound lanes are expected to be closed for days. The Virginia Department of Transportation will need to inspect the tunnel, and ventilation systems will need to be cleaned.
There is still significant traffic on the detour on Route 460. So expect delays if you're taking these roads. If you're coming north from Virginia, traffic is being routed to I-81 which connects to Route 460.
Stay with 59 News on air and online for more on this developing story.
Update:Dispatchers say the fire is out at this time. The tunnel is still closed.
Stay with 59 News for updates.
A tractor trailer caught fire, Friday, afternoon inside the East River Mountain Tunnel, creating massive traffic delays for travelers.
According to emergency dispatchers, the fire started around 3 p.m. The entire tunnel is shut down while crews work to control the blaze.
Travelers heading through the tunnels can expect major delays. There is no word on just how long it'll take to clear everything up.
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