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Multi-vehicle crash closes northbound I-5 through Bellingham

Here is what caused that backup on I-5 on Jan. 8

Northbound Interstate 5 through Bellingham was blocked for more than two hours Monday morning, Jan. 8 after a 11-vehicle pileup.
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Northbound Interstate 5 through Bellingham was blocked for more than two hours Monday morning, Jan. 8 after a 11-vehicle pileup.

Northbound Interstate 5 through Bellingham was at a standstill Monday morning because of a multi-vehicle collision, officials said.

At least one person may have been critically injured and nearly a dozen vehicles were involved in the pileup, said Washington State Patrol Trooper Heather Axtman.

Details were incomplete because police and firefighters were still working at the incident, which happened shortly before 8 a.m. just south of the Iowa Street off-ramp.

“It’s a mess out there,” Axtman said. “(The freeway is) going to be closed for awhile. Five to 10 tow trucks are needed.”

All northbound lanes of the freeway were blocked at Samish Way. Traffic was still backing up as far south as Old Fairhaven Parkway at 9:30 a.m., according to WSDOT traffic maps.

At least one serious injury was reported over emergency radio channels and Axtman confirmed that one person suffered a head injury.

“It’s a wet one out there as we kick off the new week. Slow your speeds and increase your following distance when rain is falling,” the Washington Department of Transportation tweeted just minutes before the crash.

Light rain and mist were reported at the time of the wreck, according to National Weather Service data from Bellingham International Airport. Visibility was 5 miles.

Sunrise was at 8 a.m. but the freeway was still shrouded in darkness.

Initial reports speculated that a school bus was involved, Axtman said.

Bellingham Schools spokeswoman Jackie Brawley said that confusion may have arisen when the driver of a special needs bus with one student aboard radioed other school bus driver to stay off the freeway. The bus was not part of the incident, she said.

This story will be updated.

Robert Mittendorf: 360-756-2805, @BhamMitty

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