Update at 5:34 p.m. :
Blowing dust and ash from a recent fire may have led to the collision of more than 20 vehicles today on I-90 near Vantage.
The Washington State Patrol responded around 11 a.m. to the crash, which involved 15 passenger vehicles and six commercial trucks, according to Trooper Darren Wright. The vehicles piled up near mile marker 127, about a mile from where a brush fire ignited Tuesday.
The crash sent nine people to Quincy Valley Medical Center in Grant, according to the hospital. Eight of those people were treated and released, and another was stabilized and transferred, according to the hospital.
The westbound segment of I-90 reopened early Thursday afternoon. The eastbound stretch, starting at mile marker 115 and going to the Vantage Bridge at mile marker 136, was scheduled to stay closed into Friday morning, according to Meagan Lott, spokeswoman for the state Department of Transportation.
Authorities closed down the same stretch of highway Tuesday afternoon and evening when the fire burned around I-90, including the median, according to Lott. The fire started at mile marker 127, she said.
The resulting ash has since created visibility problems, which may have contributed to the accident, according to Lott.
“Our crews are going to reassess in the morning, just to see how the visibility is,” she said. “Winds are supposed to get up to about 45 mph, we’re just hoping that those gusts die down by tomorrow.”
Lot said maintenance crews may tamp down the ash and dust with water or other material to help keep it from blowing.
Traffic this afternoon was being rerouted through Kittitas and then onto Old Vantage Highway, which brought drivers around to Vantage Bridge. There was a two-hour delay due to the amount of traffic, Lott said.