2:30 PM UPDATE: The fiery crash that closed down all southbound lanes of Interstate 5 for more than three hours this morning was caused by a driver who made a sudden lane change, according to the Washington State Patrol.
In a news memo released on Monday afternoon, state police say a 30-year-old Utah man was driving a 1996 Kenworth dump truck on south I-5 approaching Interstate 90 in the second of three lanes when the driver of another car made a lane change into that second lane.
This caused the truck driver to attempt to switch into lane one, according to the State Patrol.
The truck driver then struck the concrete barrier and a concrete pillar and the truck “became fully engulfed” in flames, according to state police.
The driver of the dump truck was taken to Harborview Medical Center where he was treated for minor injuries, according to the Seattle Fire Department.
The State Patrol memo does not say anything more about the lane-changing driver or provide a description of that driver’s car.
11:59 AM UPDATE: All southbound lanes of I-5 are now re-open.
11:38 AM UPDATE: All Interstate-5 southbound lanes, near the junction of Interstate-90, remain closed, according to the Washington State Department of Transportation.
The transportation department said just before noon it could not give an estimate on when the lanes will be reopened.
Continue to avoid the road as traffic is still backed up 3-4 miles, WSDOT says.
UPDATE, 9:50 a.m. | The southbound I-5 collector-distributor lane has reopened, which will allow access to I-90, WSDOT has reported in a tweet. Drivers can also use the collector-distributor to get around the I-5 mainline closure.
UPDATE, 9:30 a.m. | The traffic backup is now miles long after the fiery crash of a large gravel-hauling truck in the southbound lanes of Interstate 5, just south of Interstate 90, closed all lanes of the highway late this morning.
The circumstances of the crash – in which the trailers of gravel truck flipped over and the vehicle burst into flames – were not immediately clear, but a Washington State Department of Transportation spokesman said the crash occurred shortly after 8 a.m.
WSDOT said the collector-distributor lanes are also closed and is urging commuters to take Highway 99 or I-405, or anything other than I-5.
WSDOT said crews were working to clean up debris and collect the diesel that spilled out of the truck, caught fire and spread down the highway as a result of the crash.
The Seattle Fire Department reported the fire was out by 8:45 a.m. and the driver of the truck suffered only minor injuries.
The Department of Transportation said, though, that the clean-up effort would take awhile, and it continued to direct commuters off the highway, where the backup was reported to have reached 3 miles.