An 8-mile stretch of Interstate 86 was shut down by Idaho State Police for several hours on Thursday after dust storms caused multiple wrecks on the freeway by creating what troopers called “blackout” conditions.
State police said several people were injured in the crashes that occurred between 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. and resulted in Interstate 86 being closed to traffic from the Seagull Bay exit east of American Falls to the Arbon Valley Highway exit near Pocatello Regional Airport.
All of the injured individuals were transported via ambulances to local hospitals, and they’re all expected to survive, state police said.
State police reported at 9 p.m. Thursday that they had reopened the interstate because the dust storms that had created zero visibility conditions for much of the day had finally subsided.
More than a dozen vehicles including several tractor-trailers were involved in the wrecks that occurred in both the eastbound and westbound lanes of the interstate.
In one of the crashes, a semi dumped fertilizer onto the freeway, creating a hazardous materials incident.
State police said late Thursday afternoon that a HAZMAT team was on the scene cleaning up the fertilizer.
The National Weather Service had issued a wind advisory calling for gusts of up to 45 mph in East Idaho Thursday morning through Thursday night.
Thursday’s Interstate 86 wrecks are being investigated by state police who are expected to release additional details about the accidents on Friday.