Westbound I-70 traffic approaching the metro area is being diverted onto Sixth Avenue and other major east-west alternative routes are expected to fill up quickly as the morning rush hour moves forward.
Police confirmed multiple people have died following an afternoon fiery crash involving approximately 11 vehicles and four semis on the eastbound lanes of Interstate 70 near Colorado Mills Parkway, as almost a dozen others were being treated for injuries, a spokesperson for the Lakewood Police Department said during a news conference Thursday evening.
He said the number of people killed was unknown but that they had died at the scene.
Witnesses reported a chain reaction of collisions, followed immediately by a large fire.
A YouTuber live streaming himself during the traffic jam just before the fatal pileup caught footage of a fast-moving semi truck that became involved in the crash.
CDOT is also concerned about the pavement, he said.
Josh Laipply, chief engineer with CDOT, said they are going to assess the structural integrity of the bridge right next to the crash on Friday.
Six people including the semi truck driver who caused the crash were taken to the hospital for treatment of various injuries.
"We're still trying to identify what some of the cars even are", said Ty Countryman with the Lakewood Police Department.
The priority now is to extinguish the blaze and identify who was in each auto, police said. But at 9:40 p.m., the news got grimmer: "Highway will remain closed at least overnight".
The first tweet about the crash from the Colorado Department of Transportation, issued at 5:38 p.m. on Thursday, April 25, makes the incident seem nearly routine.
Transportation officials also are evaluating the damage to the bridge caused by the intense heat of the fire.
One firefighter sustained minor injuries while fighting the blaze from the crash, the West Metro Fire department said. Flames started shooting up from the crash site as he continued driving, and eventually pulled off the interstate.
It's unclear what made the vehicles ignite, Countryman said, adding that he does not know what was in the semis other than the one that appeared to be carrying lumber.
The truck "scared the bejeebies out of me", McCutchen said on a second video he posted on his channel. Rollison said drivers should check the cotrip.org website for the latest road conditions as well as suggested detours.
Advisory: the video includes profanity and scenes (from a distance) of the crash's immediate aftermath. "We can confirm that there are multiple fatalities and 6 others taken to local hospitals". "The question is, why is he out of control?"