Both sides of Interstate 15 in Murrieta were shut down for nearly two hours Thursday after a big rig was involved in a collision during and struck power lines that collapsed onto the freeway.
The non-injury crash happened about 9:20 a.m. on southbound I-15 near Murrieta Hot Springs Road, according to the California Highway Patrol.
The tractor-trailer and an SUV collided, and the larger vehicle veered into low-hanging electrical lines strung across both sides of the freeway, with the wires at their lowest point in the center median.
The lines dropped into all lanes, bringing traffic to a standstill.
Sparks ignited a spot fire on the shoulder of the of the interstate, but Murrieta Fire & Rescue personnel quickly dousing the flames, according to reports from the scene.
Southern California Edison technicians were then summoned to remove and repair the utility lines, as the CHP and Murrieta police closed both the north- and southbound sides of I-15 shortly before 10 a.m. Sheriff’s deputies and Murrieta police officers also closed freeway on-ramps, and the CHP closed the Interstate 215 transition to I-15 in French Valley, causing major congestion.
A SigAlert was issued about 10:30 a.m. because of the traffic tie-ups and blockages.
Some motorists stuck on I-15 turned around on the shoulders and drove the wrong way to reach exit ramps still accessible, according to the CHP.
Shortly after 11 a.m., SCE crews secured the utility lines, and by 11:15 a.m., all northbound lanes on I-15 were re-opened. Ten minutes later, all southbound lanes were opened.