First responders report they had a tough time clearing Interstate 10 Friday after a deadly crash involving four 18 wheelers.
Two people, a husband and his wife, died in the accident that backed up traffic for several miles and several hours. Investigators had to take some rare steps to evacuate the interstate.
A thick cloud of black smoke shot into the air and hovered over the Atchafalaya Basin throughway Friday bringing rush hour traffic to a sudden stop. Louisiana State Trooper JB Slaton said it happened at the worst possible time and in a tricky location.
"We had fuel from those 18 wheelers that had spewed over into all four lanes of travel west and eastbound and three of those trucks were engulfed in flames," Slaton said.
Because there is no barrier between the elevated portion of the interstate at Whiskey Bay and no shoulders, law enforcement had to close the interstate in both directions. Slaton said getting to the scene was a nightmare.
"Some people had turned around and were traveling the wrong way on the shoulder on their own which hindered some of our troopers' response," he said.
Once authorities secured the scene, they opened two crossovers along the swamp to get traffic moving. Slaton said it is not something that happens often, but when it does it involves a process.
"The main thing is that the traffic on the other side has to be completely clear, not only stopped and clear but we have to have a trooper drive the length of that to visually inspect that no vehicles are remaining on that portion (of the interstate)."
Traffic began moving before the sun set on Friday. The interstate was re-opened late Saturday morning.
While Slaton said he is aware many drivers may have become frustrated, getting to the scene is a responder's priority.
Troopers are still looking into the cause of the crash.
The right lane of I-10 east bound on the basin bridge around the crash site will be closed on Thursday from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. for inspection.