The eastbound, right-hand bore of the Caldecott Tunnel re-opened at around 11:15 this morning after being investigated for damage following a collision and subsequent vehicle fire that forced its closure.
The accident, which happened around 6:45 a.m. in heavy commuting traffic, prompted authorities to evacuate several dozen drivers by foot and caused significant traffic back-ups in the surrounding area.
CHP was already on the scene of an earlier traffic accident at 6:20 a.m., which had occurred on eastbound SR-24 inside the Caldecott tunnel, when they heard about a second incident. “Officers had cleared that collision and were on the Fish Ranch Road off-ramp when a citizen stopped to report an additional collision had occurred inside the tunnel,” CHP reported in a press release at 10:20 a.m.
While making their way to the scene, CHP officers heard that one car had caught fire and was fully engulfed. Both the Oakland Fire Department and the Orinda-Moraga Fire Department responded and officers on scene began evacuating the bore due to heavy smoke.
Approximately 60 people were evacuated from the tunnel while the fire departments extinguished the flames. The fire was completely extinguished at approximately 7:35 a.m.
On Berkeleyside’s Facebook page where we first reported the news, as well as on Twitter, Alice Baldridge said: “I was in there! The police directed us to back out! Super scary.”
“Preliminary investigation has revealed that a 2003 Saturn L300 was slowing or stopped due to heavy traffic ahead as a result of the first traffic collision that officers had already cleared,” said CHP. “A 2000 Ford Taurus rear-ended the Saturn, which caused the Ford to catch fire. All parties were able to safely exit their vehicles and are cooperating with our investigation. There were no injuries reported during this incident.”
At around 10:30 a.m. Caltrans was on scene helping to clean up debris and to perform roadway repairs which were needed as a result of the collision and fire. Caltrans had also requested an engineer to survey the tunnel due to possible damage from the fire.
At 11:22 a.m. CHP Oakland reported via Twitter that the tunnel bore was open again.