RV blaze on Beltway halts traffic for hours
The Capital Beltway in Montgomery County not only turned into the proverbial parking lot Saturday evening, but it also became an impromptu picnic area and recreation center, as traffic backed up for miles following a vehicle fire.
No injuries were reported in the propane-fueled fire in an RV on the inner loop just beyond River Road, said state police Sgt. Ryan Shaffer. The fire was allowed to burn itself out, Shaffer said. The cause of the blaze was not immediately known.
The fire was reported about 5:20 p.m. Soon after, traffic shutdowns began to create long lines of cars on either side of the scene. At one point, all lanes were reported shut in both directions.
“Wrong day to eat an under 100 calorie lunch,” said motorist Nicki Hicks, who joked that she was getting hungry and “about to crawl under the seat to find an old french fry.”
After about 50 minutes of traffic standstill, “we noticed people starting to get out of their cars,” said Joseph Otero, who was on his way to Northern Virginia.
Children played cards on the roadway, he said. In the empty inner loop lanes, Otero saw people “throwing softballs.”
Behind him was a car with people headed to a party, he said. They had cupcakes, and in the spirit of the evening’s impromptu amity, started handing them out to other stalled motorists and their passengers.
After almost two hours, Otero said, traffic began moving. After driving slowly past the scene of the fire, he saw the line of stalled cars that had been headed in the other direction.
The line seemed to extend all the way back to Tysons Corner in Fairfax County, he said, and “they weren’t moving at all.”