Nearly 60 Cars Involved in Fatal Pile Up in Oregon Due to Freak Weather Event

by Shelby Scott
(Photo by Ali Atmaca/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Freak weather events have been making headlines since early this week when a massive cold front brought more than a foot of snow to regions across Michigan and Wisconsin. However, farther west, dense fog had an especially tragic outcome, resulting in a near-60-car fatal pile-up between Salem and Eugene, Oregon.

The Weather Channel reports that the fatal pile-up took place around 8 a.m. local time Wednesday morning on Interstate 5 in Linn County, Oregon. Officials responding to the scene shut down southbound lanes on the interstate after at least one person was confirmed killed. At the time of the crash, the outlet reports there had been a dense fog advisory in place. Footage from the scene takes in the extent of damage, with handfuls of vehicles completely obliterated as a result of the crash.

Oregon State Police said in a news release that the Wednesday morning pile-up involved an estimated 45 passenger cars and some 15 to 20 commercial vehicles. Authorities set up a cable barrier separating the two sides of the highway in order to allow for detours. Eugene, Oregon school buses aided in transporting 30 to 40 stranded motorists from the scene. In addition, multiple hazmat teams responded after multiple commercial vehicles began leaking various fluids.

The Weather Channel’s senior digital meteorologist, Jonathan Erdman, offered an explanation for the freak weather event.

“The dense fog developed due to sinking warm air several thousand feet aloft trapping cool, moist air in the valley in what’s known as an inversion,” he explained. Further, he said that wildfire smoke from ongoing blazes across Oregon contributed to already reduced visibility responsible for causing the 60-car pile-up.

Oregon Battling Nation’s Worst Quality Air Amid Ongoing Wildfires

As stated, wildfire smoke was partially responsible for contributing to decreased visibility, therefore, causing the 60-car pile-up in Oregon on Wednesday. However, wildfire smoke has also burdened Oregon with the worst quality air in the country, with officials forced to enact an air quality advisory last Friday.

Friday’s air quality advisory covered much of western Oregon as well as southwest Washington as the state continues to combat seven major wildfires. The primary source of the smoke though is the Cedar Creek Fire, currently burning near Oakridge, as well as multiple ongoing blazes in southwest Washington.

The wildfire smoke has impacted a dozen counties specifically, including Benton, Clackamas, Coos, Douglas, Lane, Linn, Marion, Multnomah, Polk, Washington, and Yamhill.

Friday’s advisory read, “Smoke levels can change rapidly depending on weather. Smoke can irritate the eyes and lungs and worsen some medical conditions. People most at risk include infants and young children, people with heart or lung disease, older adults, and pregnant people.”

Officials further warned that common masks like cloth, dust, and surgical ones do not protect against harmful components in wildfire smoke.