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By Phil Helsel
At least two people were killed Thursday in a crash involving three semis and a dozen cars on Interstate 70 near Denver. A fire erupted, damaging a bridge and closing the highway, authorities said.
Multiple deaths had been confirmed and six people were transported to local hospitals, according to Lakewood Police Department Agent Ty Countryman, who said he did not know the conditions of those transported.
The number of those killed in the crash, which was reported just before 5 p.m. west of Denver was not known Thursday night, the Lakewood Police Department said.
“We still are just getting to the wreckage,” he said. The fire had been extinguished out, but the blaze and hot spots prevented investigators from getting to the crashed vehicles sooner, he said.
A semi headed eastbound crashed into vehicles that were stopped because of another crash on 1-70 eastbound, Countryman said.
The driver of one of the semis was among the six hospitalized, he said.
Officials initially said that at least one person was killed, but Countryman said at least one other fatality had been confirmed in the wreckage.
Aerial video from NBC affiliate KUSA showed pieces of wood littering the highway and vehicles on fire.
There was significant damage to a bridge over I-70 and damage to the roadway from the fire, Countryman said. “The bridge was not impacted from the collision; it’s all from the heat of the fire,” he said.
Countryman said earlier that he did not know what the three semis were carrying, but the “main one involved” appeared to be hauling wood of some kind, based on videos.
“I was trying to get to the off ramp, and just all you hear is this big huge boom and then the big black smoke just kind of went off all over,” one witness told the station. “And then you start hearing this popping noise, and things blowing up.”
“It was just really scary. Nobody really knew what was going on,” she said.
Both directions of I-70 near Denver West Parkway were closed after the crash. Countryman said he expected the highway to be closed overnight.
Phil Helsel is a reporter for NBC News.