I-5 southbound cleared after 7-car crash that created a backup 3 miles long

Courtesy to The Bellingham Herald

A seven-car crash that blocked Interstate 5 southbound just north of the Portal Way exit Tuesday afternoon was cleared at 3:40 p.m., according to a tweet from the Washington State Department of Transportation.

WSDOT video shows traffic working past scene the incident in both lanes after being snarled in a nearly three-mile long backup, according to a second WSDOT North tweet at 2:43 p.m.

“We highly encourage anybody in that area to find a different route,” Washington State Patrol Trooper Heather Axtman told The Bellingham Herald shortly after the accident. “We do not have an ETA on how long it will be closed at this time.”

One of the cars involved was a semi truck, Axtman said.

“One of the possible causes we’re looking at was at the time of the crash, we’re getting reports that there was a box truck that was heavily smoking and causing visibility issues,” Axtman said. “We’re currently looking for that truck, because we don’t know if it might be on fire somewhere.”

Axtman said one driver has been transported from the scene, but she did not know how severe the injuries were.

David Rasbach joined The Bellingham Herald in 2005 and now covers breaking news. He has been an editor and writer in several western states since 1994.