On July 17, blowing dust and ash from a fire near Interstate 90 near Vantage, Washington, caused a 20-plus car pile-up. The Washington State Patrol says that at approximately 11:00 a.m., 15 vehicles and six commercial trucks crashed into each other, causing a massive accident scene near Mile Marker 127.
Even though the highway was closed by the Department of Transportation on July 15 due to the brush fire, the remaining ash, smoke and dust continued to cause visibility problems. It is reported that the median of the highway was on fire. The site of the accident was at the very spot where visibility was the worst.
Nine people were transported to Quincy Valley Medical Center in Grant, Washington. Eight of those people suffered minor injuries and after receiving treatment were released. The other person was stabilized and moved to another hospital.
I-90's westbound section was re-opened on Thursday afternoon, July 17. However, the eastbound segment, from mile marker 115 to the Vantage Bridge located at Mile Marker 136 remained closed through Friday morning.
The Department of Transportation sent crews of workers to assess the visibility the day after the accident occurred. The work crews poured water on the ash and dust in hopes of keeping it on the ground and not in the air. They are hoping that high winds, which have reached 45 miles per hour, will end so that visibility is good enough for drivers to safely travel on the highway.
Sometimes because of extenuating circumstances such as weather, poor visibility or bad road conditions, it may be difficult to determine who was at fault in a car accident. It may still be worthwhile for victims to obtain legal assistance to help determine whether there is any recourse they can take to help recoup lost wages and medical costs.
Source: Seattle Times, "Stretch of I-90 near Vantage still closed after 21-vehicle crash" Jul. 17, 2014