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RANCHO PENASQUITOS, Calif. – A moving cement truck caught fire and possibly exploded on the 15 Freeway between San Diego and Escondido, causing a fire that may have spread to brush below a bridge near Mercy Road.

 The freeway’s northbound lanes remained closed while hazmat crews determined how to best remove the smoldering wreckage, CHP officers said.

CHP, california highway patrolCHP records indicate 911 calls began coming in at 6:38 a.m., about a burning truck heading north on the 15 Freeway’s general purpose lanes. Some callers said the cement truck somehow exploded.

A fire also broke out in the deep canyon below the freeway’s bridge just north of Mercy Road. Initial reports were that a car had fallen off the freeway bridge into the chasm, but CHP officers were unable to immediately spot that.

The truck driver was able to escape with minor injuries before the engine compartment and cab burned. It was not immediately reported if there was a load of wet cement in the mixer.

The left three lanes of the mainline portion of Interstate 15 remained open while three right lanes were closed in the aftermath of the crash. Caltrans workers began the process to drop tolls on the express lanes in the median to handle the crush of backed-up traffic.

The CHP closed the Mercy Road on ramp at 6:55 a.m., to allow for the investigation into the crash. Caltrans and San Diego police were assisting to cone off the area for a hours-long closure while the cement truck is removed.