UPDATE: All lanes of I-77 reopened at tunnel, day after fire - WVVA TV Bluefield Beckley WV News, Weather and Sports

UPDATE: All lanes of I-77 reopened at tunnel, day after fire

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UPDATE: Both northbound lanes of I-77 at the East River Mountain Tunnel are now open to traffic, a little more than 24 hours after a truck fire shut the entire tunnel down.

One northbound lane had been open for much of the day Saturday. The second lane was re-opened by Saturday night.

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UPDATE: The right land of Interstate 77 Northbound has reopened through the East River Mountain Tunnel.

According to Michelle Earl with the Virginia Department of Transportation, crews are reopening Interstate 81 exit 72 to give drivers access to I-77 north. 

Traffic will be moving slowly. Earl reminds drivers to use caution. 

Electrical repairs inside the tunnel continue. No time frame for reopening the left lane has been established. 

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UPDATE (WVVA) -Emergency officials now say the northbound side of the East River Mountain Tunnel could reopen sometime overnight. Watch Caroline Bach's report for the latest information.

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 BLUEFIELD (WVVA) - The northbound side of East River Mountain Tunnel could be closed for 'days' after a truck fire inside caused heat and smoke damage.

Tim Farley, Mercer County Emergency Management Director, tells WVVA News that the fire was extinguished and what was left of the truck was removed from the tunnel by 8 p.m.

Farley said all firefighters were out of the tunnel and accounted for. Two suffered smoke inhalation and were transported to a nearby hospital.

There was no word on the condition of the truck driver.

Southbound lanes were closed until just after 10:00 p.m. Friday. The northbound side, however, could remain closed for "days," Farley said, due to heat and smoke damage from the fire.

John Nash Blvd. was partially open to some remaining detoured northbound traffic Friday night. VDOT closed I-77 at Wytheville, Va., earlier in the evening.

Southbound traffic was still being detoured off I-77 at Exit 9 in Princeton, causing delays on Route 460 in the area.


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6:50 p.m. UPDATE: The Bluefield Police Department says Route 598 over East River Mountain is currently closed.


Motorists in the Bluefield area are advised to expect lengthy delays as crews work at the scene of a truck fire inside East River Mountain Tunnel.

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UPDATE:The following update was issued by VDOT at 6:00 pm.

I-77 remains closed in both directions. Virginia State Police have closed I-77 northbound at I-81 in Wytheville and southbound traffic is being diverted in West Virginia.

Surrounding states have been informed of the incident and the detours and they are sharing that information with motorists via electronic message boards.

VDOT is in the process of coordinating needed infrastructure repairs.

No timeframe has been established for damage assessment and repairs; however, we anticipate the the northbound tunnel closure may be in place for several days.

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Bluefield, W. Va. (WVVA) – Traffic comes to a standstill on Interstate 77 when a tractor trailer catches fire inside the East River Mountain Tunnel.

The fire started shortly after 3:00 pm on Friday. Emergency officials say the tractor trailer is carrying 200 gallons of fuel and is hauling paper boxes. Multiple fire departments are on scene.

According to www.511virginia.org, motorists can expect major delays due to the vehicle fire. The north left shoulder, left lane, right lane, and right shoulder are closed. Traffic is backed up around five miles.

WVVA has a crew on scene. Look for more information on WVVA News at  five and six.
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