SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) –There was no BART strike Monday, but Bay Bridge drivers were still subject to a nightmare commute after a big-rig carrying Asian food supplies caught fire just west of the span, creating a traffic nightmare for commuters heading to San Francisco from the East Bay.

All the lanes opened at 3:25 p.m. after the charred truck was towed away, according to authorities. Lanes of I-80 were blocked well into the afternoon, despite earlier indications from California Highway Patrol that it would reopen a couple of hours before the evening commute.

The truck – which was carrying Sushi and rice vinegar – was driving west across the bridge around 5:45 a.m. when a front tire blew out, CHP Officer Michael Ferguson said.

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“I feel a wobbling in my front tires on the steering and then the passenger side front tire blew out,” driver Sergio Mata, who was uninjured, told KPIX 5. “When I (stood) up inside the cab I saw flames coming from the holes of the windshield wipers so I grabbed the fire extinguisher.”

Mata’s efforts to put the fire out himself proved unsuccessful.

Traffic backed up well beyond the maze as firefighters worked for more than an hour to extinguish the blaze. Hazmat teams were called out to remove the remaining fuel from the truck. The fire was completely extinguished at 6:53 a.m., according to San Francisco fire officials.

The CHP had initially hoped to have the highway cleared by noon, but the removal of the vehicle proved much more difficult than initially hoped.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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