RV fire and six-car pileup close Interstate 70 near Dillon Monday | SummitDaily.com

RV fire and six-car pileup close Interstate 70 near Dillon Monday

Interstate 70 was closed for nearly an hour on Monday, as officials scrambled to respond to a series of accidents. Firefighters and state patrol worked to clear the highway west of the Eisenhower-Johnson Memorial Tunnel as they responded to a burning RV and a pileup from icy, sleet-covered roads.

The chaos started when an RV caught fire at 11:22 a.m., along mile-marker 208 on westbound I-70. Lake Dillon Fire-Rescue responded quickly to the scene and was able to extinguish the fire, despite the fact that one of their water tenders broke down with a broken shaft along the way.

Steve Lipsher, a public information officer for Lake Dillon Fire, said all of the passengers made it safely out of the RV. However, after the owner of the vehicle evacuated everyone, they re-entered the vehicle and suffered some injuries as a result, though they were not life threatening.

“We always want to remind people — if you get out of a burning structure, you’re safe. Don’t jeopardize your safety by going in,” Lipsher added.

The cause of the fire is still undetermined.

Just minutes later, as crews were still extinguishing the fire, they received a call about an unrelated accident involving two cars less than a mile away. Five occupants were cleared and a sixth reported minor injuries but declined medical transport.

Before crews had an opportunity to descend from the tunnel, a hailstorm swept in, creating icy conditions that resulted in a six-car pileup. The Summit County Ambulance Service transported two patients to the Summit Medical Center, while firefighters, state patrol and the Colorado Department of Transportation worked to clear the scene, re-opening the westbound lanes by 1:30 p.m.

“It was just a weird cluster of incidents up on I-70,” Lipsher said. “There’s no rhyme or reason as to why those all happened at the same time.”

Trooper Nate Reid, a public information officer for Colorado State Patrol, said they responded to a total of four different crashes involving 10 or 11 different vehicles that afternoon.

“It sounds like there was some heavy rain, which turned into sleet which turned into hail, which caused the roadway to be impassable,” Reid said.

He added that the resulting injuries were minor.

Tracy Trulove, a communications manager with CDOT, said cars were diverted to Loveland Pass while authorities cleared the accident.

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