NEAR WOODBURN, OR (KPTV) - A fiery crash involving two semi-trucks blocked traffic late Tuesday afternoon on Interstate 5 north of Woodburn.
The serious-injury crash occurred on I-5 southbound near milepost 274 just before 4 p.m., according to Oregon State Police. When crews arrived on scene, both semis were fully engulfed in flames, OSP says.
According to investigators, Rex Hollopeter, one of the semi-truck drivers, was transported by helicopter to a hospital in Portland with serious injuries.
Hollopeter, 51, of Salem, was driving a Freightliner truck and semi-trailer south in the far right lane when he sideswiped a Volvo semi-truck and semi-trailer pulled to the shoulder of the road, OSP says. Hollopeter's truck caught fire and came to a rest blocking all southbound lanes of I-5.
Hollopeter was transported by helicopter to Legacy Emanuel Medical Center in Portland with serious injuries. The other driver and a passenger were outside of their truck when the collision occurred and were not hurt. According to OSP, the second truck driver was pulled to the shoulder of the road due to smoke coming from under the truck.
All southbound lanes of I-5 are expected to be closed indefinitely until the Oregon Department of Transportation can asses damage to the roadway. Northbound lanes after the crash were slowed due to smoke, with the Oregon Department of Transportation warning drivers that the lanes were open but at a virtual standstill.
"Southbound and northbound motorists should expected lengthy delays and plan an alternative route," ODOT said.
Tuesday night, ODOT said the road sustained significant damage from the force of the fire and the diesel fuel that spilled from the trucks. They hope to reopen the left and middle lanes before the Wednesday morning commute but will do so only if the lanes are safe.
The agency says the right lane sustained the most damage in the crash and may stay closed for an extended period until they can repave it.
As a detour, southbound travelers can use 99E south and rejoin I-5 at Woodburn.
Crews, including the Salem Fire Department, the Aurora Fire Department and the Hubbard Fire Department, worked into Tuesday evening to extinguish the blaze and clear the scene. No additional details were immediately available for release, including what might have caused the crash.
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