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Collision and Fire Shut Down 5 Freeway near Downtown

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A big rig carrying a cargoload of tires collided with a sedan around 10 this morning on the 5 Freeway south of 4th Street, causing a two-hour-long shutdown of the major arteries through Downtown and a blaze that was apparently visible from over 20 miles away.

It took 60 firefighters 38 minutes to knock down the flames, according the LAFD, which lept from the burning vehicles to nearby palm trees, as witnessed by other drivers, including LAist's own Callie Miller, who was close enough to nab some amazing photos of the scene.

Only minor injuries are reported for those involved, and the freeways were reopened just before noon. During the delay, "stranded cars were reportedly driving the wrong direction on freeway lanes and onramps, trying to get out of the traffic mess" reports CBS2.com. The accident and the fire affected traffic not just on the 5, but on all branches of the freeways that intersect nearby on the East L.A. interchange, a notoriously tangled and trafficked portion of our city's freeways.

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UPDATE: To see more photos, see our Photo Essay of the incident.

Photo by Callie Miller for LAist