Fire raged Friday inside an 750-foot uncompleted section of Metro Rail subway tunnel under a downtown freeway, collapsing part of the tunnel and creating a hellish Friday the 13th commute for tens of thousands of workers.
No injuries were reported and the cause of the fire was not immediately determined. About 140 firefighters were battling the blaze from both ends of the tunnel but could not go inside due to concerns about another collapse."We are concerned about (the integrity of the tunnel) until we can investigate it further," Fire Battalion Chief Lon Pursell said.
Andrea Greene, a spokeswoman for the Southern California Rapid Transit District, which is building the subway, said about 100 feet of tunnel near the freeway had caved in.
Federal mining experts were summoned to inspect the tunnel and determine the risk of further collapse.
The burning tunnel, buried 40 to 80 feet deep, is underneath the Hollywood Freeway, and officials uncertain about the strength of the tunnel were forced to shut down the major artery hours before the start of the morning commute.
The California Highway Patrol announced a daylong closure of the Hollywood Freeway for several miles from the San Bernardino Freeway to the four-level interchange.