UPDATE: lanes reopen at East River Mountain Tunnel after fire - WVVA TV Bluefield Beckley WV News, Weather and Sports

UPDATE: lanes reopen at East River Mountain Tunnel after fire

Posted:
VIRGINIA-WEST VIRGINIA BORDER - The East River Mountain tunnels are now back open after a car fire late Thursday night.

The call came in around 11:00 p.m. of a car a blaze on the southbound side of Interstate 77 approximately 1,000 feet from the south end of the tunnel.

According to Green Valley-Glenwood Fire Department Chief David Thompson the car's driver was able to escape and was taken to a hospital in Virginia with possible smoke inhalation.

No other details about the driver are known at this time.

Several local fire departments including Bluefield, Green Valley-Glenwood, as well as Bland and Rocky Gap were on the scene.

Chief Thompson said anytime there is a fire inside the tunnel, it can be very hazardous, but the cooperation of all agencies including the personnel that man the tunnel helped minimize damage and loss of life.

"Our initial call was that it was a tractor trailer, but fortunately it was just an automobile and therefore minimal damage was done to the tunnel. Up in the control tower, you have all the cameras that are in the tunnel. Plus we have some communication with the tunnel people. Since we had the fire in July we really worked together well," said Chief Thompson.

Traffic was backed up on both ends from 11 until around 12:45 when the scene was cleared.

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Mercer County dispatchers say the north and southbound lanes are now open on I-77 at the East River Mountain Tunnel.  

They say a car caught on fire in the tunnel in the southbound lane in the tunnel around 10:30 p.m. on Thursday night.  By 11:30 p.m. the fire was out.No injuries have been reported.

The fire engulfed the vehicle causing both lanes on I-77 to be shut down until about 12:30 a.m. on Friday morning.

Back in July, the tunnel was engulfed in flames by a semi-truck carrying around 200 gallons of fuel and a load of paper boxes -- shutting down both lanes until the next day.

Hear from the first responders on WVVA Today starting at 5 a.m.
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