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Hawthorne, Calif. – A fuel tanker truck crashed and burned early Friday on a highway near Los Angeles International Airport, killing two people and causing a massive traffic jam that forced travelers to abandon their vehicles and walk off the freeway with their luggage, authorities said.

The California Highway Patrol received reports of the crash involving the tanker and an SUV followed by a fireball on the westbound side of Interstate 105 in suburban Hawthorne shortly after 5 a.m.

Two fatalities were confirmed, the Los Angeles County Fire Department tweeted, but authorities did not immediately provide more details.

Both sides of the freeway and a Metro light rail commuter line that runs down the middle of the highway were shut down as authorities let the fire burn itself out.

Undamaged eastbound lanes reopened after nearly three hours, while emergency work continued on the westbound side.

Some trapped motorists got out of their cars and others tried to drive off the freeway by using on-ramps as exits.

Shortly after 6 a.m. the highway patrol’s online incident log reported that people were abandoning vehicles, taking luggage and jumping over fences alongside the freeway. It is a major southern approach to the airport.

An unidentified traveler showed KTTV where she climbed a steep embankment and over a tall fence to get off the freeway. KTTV reported she missed her flight but was assured she would be rebooked.

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority tweeted that it was sending buses to carry people around the closed section of its Green Line rail route.

Interstate 105 runs east-west across southern Los Angeles County, intersecting with four other major freeways.

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