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UPDATE: One driver killed, Coquihalla partially reopens northbound

The blaze was reported just before 9 p.m. Monday

  • Jul. 30, 2018 10:10 p.m.

Update: 7:30 a.m.

The Coquihalla has partially reopened to traffic northbound with lane closures in effect. DriveBC reports a single lane has repoened and motorists should expect delays due to heavy congestion.

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Update: 7 a.m.

RCMP say a driver died following a multi-vehicle crash and fire on the Coquihalla Monday evening.

Staff Sgt. Dwayne Farlin says Hope RCMP, Merritt RCMP and Fraser Valley Traffic Services were called to the scene of a crash between two tractor-trailer units near the Coquihalla Lakes Exit at 9:20 p.m. Monday evening.

The accident sparked a fire and BC Wildfire Service was called to assist. During this time a third vehicle heading north crashed into the back of one of the tractor-trailers, killing the driver.

“As a result of the crash and subsequent fire, traffic northbound on Highway 5 was temporarily closed. During this time a vehicle travelling north bound struck the back of a tractor-trailer unit. The driver of the vehicle was pronounced deceased on scene,” says Farlin.

“A fire broke out that spread to nearby bushes. Provincial fire resources were called out from Kamloops to assist with containing the fire as the area is not in a municipal coverage area. The fire has been contained.”

As of 6:30 a.m., Hwy. 5 remains closed to traffic while the investigation into both matters continue.

“RCMP are encouraging travellers to use an alternate route if travelling to the Interior. It is not known at this time when the route will re-open,” adds Farlin.

DriveBC reports the Coquihalla is closed northbound between Hope and Merrit at Britton Creek, 50 kilometres north of Hope because of the crash.

It puts the estimated time of opening at 9 a.m., with the next update expected at 8:30 a.m.

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UPDATE: 1:26 a.m.

Single-lane traffic is reported to be moving northbound along Highway 5.

Drivers should be warned traffic is slow going and DriveBC has not issued a statement claiming the Coquihalla has reopened northbound.

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UPDATE: 12:41 a.m.

Mark Streit took to social media Monday night with a video of flames bursting into the air on the Coquihalla.

Apparently, he and his family had been driving along Highway 5 just before 9:30 p.m. when they saw smoke up ahead.

“We were maybe a minute behind them, because Benjamin and I walked to the accident site in about 10 minutes, and the emergency vehicles didn’t start arriving until we were on our way back. We are about two hours from home, but have no clue how much longer we will be stuck here like this. Seats are laid back in our van. We are praying for those involved in the accident, hoping there were no fatalities (sic),” he posted to Facebook.

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UPDATE 12:09 a.m.

According to Drive BC, Highway 5 remains closed between Hope and Merritt at Britton Creek (50 km north of Hope) because of a vehicle incident.

An assessment is in progress and the estimated time of opening is not available. Drivers are advised to use an alternate route. The next update is expected at 2 a.m.

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UPDATE: 11:28 p.m.

Hope Search and Rescue is being called out to assist emergency crews on the Coquihalla.

According to the SAR team a vehicle is pinned and there is an unknown number of people trapped inside.

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UPDATE: 11:15 p.m.

BC Air Ambulance is reportedly headed to the scene of the crash on the Coquihalla.

According to witnesses on scene a person might be trapped in one of the vehicles.

BC Wildfire Service has been notified and is possibly heading to the scene.

————

UPDATE: 11:03 p.m.

A semi-truck driver from Langley, who is on his way to Calgary, says he has been in touch with a friend who is on scene of the vehicle fire.

According to Calvin Shupe, a vehicle rear-ended a semi near the Britton Creek rest area on the Coquihalla.

Shupe was not sure if the semi was parked or not.

When Shupe’s friend, who was driving a private vehicle, came across the incident, large flames were bursting into the air from the semi truck.

Several motorists pulled over to try and help, but according to Shupe the driver of the semi can’t be found.

It’s unclear if the driver of the other vehicle was able to safely exit.

There is no estimated time of the northbound lanes reopening.

——

DriveBC is reporting the Coquihalla is closed northbound due to a vehicle fire.

The vehicle blaze was reported just before 9 p.m., south of Britton Creek.

Drivers are reporting seeing the smoke rising into the sky.

Those travelling on Highway 5 should check DriveBC for updates and expect delays.

More to come.

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Mark Streit

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