By Joel Phelps
A multi-car pileup on Interstate 30 Wednesday morning has eastbound and westbound traffic clogged from Arkadelphia to Glen Rose.
By 4:30 p.m. Arkansas State Police had confirmed fatalities resulting from a 12-car pileup involving at least two 18-wheelers.
Multiple agencies were summoned to the scene. At 12:36 p.m. the Caddo Valley Fire Department was requested by agencies at the 85 westbound mile-marker in Hot Spring County, where the crash occurred, for mutual aid. Dispatchers advised of an 18-wheeler on fire with an occupant trapped inside.
Ten minutes later, the Arkadelphia Fire Department was summoned to the scene to assist in extinguishing fires.
At 12:50 p.m. the DeGray Fire Department was sent to the scene with a tanker. That department was advised that two 18-wheelers were fully engulfed in flames.
The Gum Springs Fire Department was dispatched at 1:07 p.m. to the scene, and was also advised to take a tanker.
At 3:30 p.m. a firefighter at the scene told The Arkadelphian that he expected emergency crews would remain on scene for “several more hours.”
According to iDriveArkansas, eastbound traffic between the Arkadelphia exit and the site of the crash remained at a standstill, and northbound traffic on Highway 67 was moving at a snail’s pace from Caddo Valley to Donaldson.
Westbound traffic was backed up from the crash scene to the Glen Rose exit, and though traffic was being diverted onto state Highway 84 at Social Hill, portions of that highway showed slow traffic to all of its connections to state Highway 7.
Though other agencies remained at the scene, Arkadelphia firefighters were relieved of their duties before 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Roger Wingfield, a volunteer fireman with the department for 28 years, said Wednesday’s pileup was the largest crash event scene he’d ever seen. “It was a large scene,” Wingfield said. “We knew upon arriving there would be multiple fatalities.” Wingfield said firefighters had to account for the fires, the storm and ensuring the injured victims had the correct resources coming to administer the aid they needed. “It was an unfortunate event but everyone had a role, and it was handled as quickly and professionally as could be,” Wingfield added.
The interstate remained shut throughout the evening and well into Thursday morning. By 6 a.m. Thursday the westbound lane remained closed as crews worked to remove the final vehicles blocking the roadway. Westbound traffic was being diverted at Malvern exits, and at 10 a.m. westbound traffic was at a standstill from Malvern to Benton.
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