California Highway Patrol and Moraga-Orinda Fire Department personnel raced to untangle a two-car accident in the tunnel at 6:43 a.m. Monday – but were eventually forced to close eastbound Bore One after one of the cars burst into flame.
Several dozen commuters were forced out of their cars by the billowing smoke. Many walked out to the Oakland-side entrance in order to escape the smoke as firefighters worked to get their apparatus past stalled and abandoned cars to the scene of the fire.
Officer Sean Wilkenfeld said the CHP’s preliminary investigation determined that a 2003 Saturn L300 was slowing or stopped due to heavy traffic ahead as a result of a prior, unrelated traffic collision that officers had already cleared. 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 the investigation, Wilkenfeld said. There were no injuries reported during the morning’s incident, though shuttle buses were called to get roughly 60 people from the Oakland side of the tunnel to its Orinda side as the CHP attempted to get traffic moving again.
The car fire was reported extinguished at 7:46 a.m. and the tunnel was re-opened – after safety checks – at around 11:15 a.m.