UPDATE: All Northbound lanes open on I-77 at East River Mountai - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

UPDATE: All Northbound lanes open on I-77 at East River Mountain Tunnel

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Crews work around the clock to open all lanes of I-77 at the East River Mountain Tunnel Crews work around the clock to open all lanes of I-77 at the East River Mountain Tunnel

UPDATE:

According to VDOT and East River Mountain Tunnel officials, all northbound lanes are back open.

Officials say they reopened at 5 p.m. Saturday, July 26.

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ORIGINAL:

A tractor trailer that caught fire inside the East River Mountain Tunnel on Friday is still causing delays.

It happened in the northbound lanes of the tunnel that divides Mercer and Bland counties around 2:00 Friday afternoon. The driver luckily made it out okay. He told officials the fuel tank exploded.

Crews on scene said two West Virginia firefighters are in the hospital  because of smoke inhalation. The northbound tunnel has one lane open and the southbound tunnel has both lanes back open.

Crews are now working around the clock to repair damages to the tunnel with the goal of re-opening all lanes of I-77 as soon as possible. Although safe for travel, officials told 59News their work now is to repair the remaining damages to the tunnel.

"There was pavement damage that we worked through the night to repair as well as debris removal and a significant amount of electrical damage that is still ongoing at this time. We have one lane northbound open and the other lane we are using to continue that electrical work," said VDOT's Regional Operations Director, Ken King.

King gave a tour of the control room above the tunnel where he showed us the electric work still needing to be finished.

"These are the northbound lanes, these are the lights but there's no illumination, that's the electrical damage. This is the lane closure that's in effect, the illumination you see is created by temporary lighting that we have in place to support the movement of traffic and to support the construction activities that are taking place," he said.

Although almost all lanes are now open, Sgt. McCall asks all drivers to still use the detours, if possible, to minimize traffic and to ensure the safety of those who continue to work inside the tunnel.

"When you have a lot more cars coming, you have the likelihood of another injuroccurringng and a secondary accident inside the tunnel because of the darkness. If they can please use an alternate route and plan their trips accordingly today," said Sgt. Kevin McCall with Virginia State Police.

King gives his best estimate as to when all lanes of I-77 should reopen.

"As soon as we can get electricity restored and get enough illumination to where we don't need these lights then we can work towards getting both lanes open in the northbound direction," he said.

Drivers can find detours at US-220, US-460 and I-81.

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