KALAMA, Wash. — The right two lanes of I-5 southbound will be closed Wednesday night along a roughly one-mile stretch south of Kalama to remove a semi-truck and trailer that plunged into the Columbia River during a multi-vehicle crash on Tuesday.
The closure will be between mile posts 26.4 and 25.5 from 9 p.m. Wednesday to 5 a.m. Thursday, according to the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT). Drivers should expect delays and watch out for crews.
The Tuesday afternoon crash between Kalama and Woodland became a major recovery mission and traffic blockage when two semi-trucks careened off the right shoulder and tumbled down an embankment next to the freeway.
One of the semis caught fire, and the other's trailer detached and started floating in the river, according to Trooper Will Finn with the Washington State Patrol.
WSDOT reported that a crash had blocked the middle and right lanes of I-5 southbound near milepost 25 shortly after 1:30 p.m., quickly resulting in a miles-long traffic backup extending north toward Kalama.
In addition to the two trucks, Finn said that the crash involved three passenger vehicles. Despite the size of the wreck, there were no serious injuries reported. One driver reported a broken finger.
It wasn't immediately clear what caused the crash.
The southbound fast lane was opened for traffic while crews responded to knock down the truck fire, try to contain fuel spilling into the river and recover the waterlogged semis.
Finn said that the trailer that had detached was full of metal shelving, while the other trailer was empty.
Up through 3 p.m., responding fire and traffic crews were still dealing with flare-ups from the truck fire and fuel spilling from both trucks, as well as a traffic pileup reaching just south of Longview. Finn said that the U.S. Coast Guard was contacted to assess the fuel spill.
The right lane of I-5 southbound remained closed as of 6 p.m. and Finn estimated it would be closed for hours. Finn said that the center lane had been reopened.