Update at 9:10 p.m. | The State Patrol reports that all lanes are now open. The driver of the semi, who was declared dead at the scene, was identified Monday night as 59-year-old James Weaver of Jamestown, Ohio, according to The News Tribune of Tacoma.
Update at 7:05 p.m. | It could be another hour before all the lanes of southbound Interstate 5 near DuPont are cleared of debris from the fiery, fatal accident. Trooper Guy Gill said at 7 p.m. Monday that workers were “getting close.” Efforts have been hampered, he said, because all three vehicles involved in the accident burned so thoroughly that they crumble into debris during attempts to move them.
Update at 5:54 p.m.: The semi trailer is still being unloaded and only one lane remains open. The DOT says the trailer is full of heavy steel that has to be removed before the trailer can be righted and moved. The backup on southbound I-5 is now estimated at 15 miles.
Update at 4:25 p.m.: A Washington State Patrol spokesman said it will be 6 p.m. at the earliest before workers finish clearing all the lanes of southbound Interstate 5 near DuPont where a fiery accident on Monday morning left one dead and several injured.
Washington State Patrol spokesman Trooper Guy Gill said people headed south on Interstate 5 toward Joint Base Lewis-McChord may want to work late or stop for dinner rather than rushing into traffic. The backup was 12 miles long much of the day, he said.
All but one of the southbound lanes of the freeway has been closed since shortly after the 10:15 a.m. accident, he said. The accident occurred when a northbound pickup, which was towing a trailer, crossed the median and struck a box truck and a semi. The driver of the semi was killed and the driver of the pickup was seriously injured, Gill said. The occupants of the box truck suffered very minor injuries, he said. The semi and the trailer erupted in flames, he said.
Gill said the cleanup has been massive, necessitating five tow trucks and a front-loader.
“We’re trying to get this cleared, but you know that when we need to bring in a front-loader there’s a lot of debris,” he said. After the debris is cleared, he said workers will still need to sand the roads because of the fuel and the fire.
Update at 4:05 p.m.: Workmen continue to remove debris and wreckage from the scene of the accident, although one lane has been opened. Backups on southbound I-5 extend 13 miles. Alternate routes are also clogged, the State Patrol says. No word on when the other lanes will be opened.
Update at 2:55 p.m.: The State Patrol reports the southbound lanes of Interstate 5 are still blocked, although vehicles are being removed. The lanes should be opened shortly.
Original post: DUPONT — The Washington State Patrol says one person has been killed in a fiery crash that blocked the southbound lanes of Interstate 5 south of Tacoma near DuPont.
Transportation Department video of the scene Monday morning at Mounts Road showed fire burning a truck trailer and perhaps another vehicle.
Traffic backed up for miles with no good detour in the area. Northbound traffic also slowed because of the emergency.