Smoke and fog drifting over Interstate 84 near Boardman contributed to a multi-vehicle crash Monday night that temporarily shut down the freeway.
Early reports of crashes came over emergency radio calls starting around 8:30 p.m. Later transmissions indicated as many as six people were injured. Emergency dispatchers called for an air ambulance, but reports soon after said the weather would not permit the flight.
The severity of the injuries was not available at press time.
Several transmissions also reported fog and heavy smoke from fires at the GreenWood Resources tree farm a few miles east of Boardman limited visibility between Boardman and Hermiston. Some responders at the scene described the scene as a “white out” on the emergency scanner.
And the fires, according to transmissions, would burn for at least a day.
The Oregon Department of Transportation closed both directions of I-84 between mileposts 171 and 177.
George Murdock, Umatilla County commissioner, said he was stuck in traffic for about an hour on the eastbound side near milepost 175 and saw an ambulance, police car and a fire engine roar by. He estimated he was about a hundred yards from the scene, but the thick smoke obliterated any clear view.
He also said breathing the smoke felt “toxic.”
Traffic began to flow around 9:40 p.m., Murdock said, and he saw one car mangled under a semi. He also said he heard ambulances took six injured from the scene.
The East Oregonian will follow this story and provide more information Wednesday.