BAKER CITY, Ore. -- Black ice is believed to be the cause of a freeway pileup involving more than a dozen tractor-trailers Saturday morning in eastern Oregon, police said.
The pileup left a long stretch of Interstate 84 closed for most of the day as crews worked to clean spilled diesel fuel and clear away 50 vehicles that were either damaged or stranded.
Four people were taken to hospitals with injuries ranging from minor to serious, but there were no fatalities, Oregon State Police Sgt. Kyle Hove said. The crash occurred shortly before 5 a.m. east of Baker City, about 130 miles northwest of Boise, Idaho.
Hove arrived on the scene to find "a sheet of ice" on the roadway. Troopers are still investigating, but Hove said he believes it was a chain-reaction crash.
"A couple of the trucks came upon the black ice, and they jackknifed and crashed into each other. And it just continued to escalate until we had a total of 50 vehicles in one scene," Hove told The Associated Press by phone.
There were several separate collisions over a stretch of about three-quarters of a mile in the eastbound lanes, Hove said. About 20 vehicles were damaged, many of them tractor-trailers, and several spilled their loads, he said.
Two trucks were transporting hazardous materials. Their cargo did not spill, but crews had to clean up diesel from the trucks' fuel tanks.
"We understand it's frustrating when the freeway is closed like this," said Tom Srandberg, a spokesman for the Oregon Department of Transportation. "Our primary concern is safety, and (we) want to make sure everything is cleared by our hazmat folks before we let any traffic through the areas."
Interstate 84 links Salt Lake City with Portland, Oregon, and is the primary east-west highway through eastern Oregon. The eastbound lanes were closed from Pendleton to Ontario, a stretch of more than 150 miles. Westbound lanes were closed near the crash site.