BRIDGEWATER, England, Nov. 5 (UPI) —
A massive, fiery pileup on an English highway left at least seven people dead and 51 injured, police said Saturday.
The BBC reported the cause of the Friday night pileup was not certain but authorities and witnesses said the road was wet and it was foggy at the time.
The incident was very, very challenging and on arrival crews were faced with literally one massive fireball, Assistant Chief Constable Anthony Bangham of the Avon and Somerset police said.
Most vehicles were well alight and most continued to burn for a considerable time.
The Daily Telegraph reported authorities were investigating whether a nearby fireworks display contributed to the traffic disaster.
A black fog came down and the Iceland truck in front of us literally disappeared, Ciara Neno, 39, of Weston-super-Mare told the newspaper. “We managed to brake and miss the lorry but it was too late, the carnage had already started. All we heard was thump, thump, thump.
My husband dragged people from the cars. The smell was horrendous and there were a number of explosions. We walked away, but others weren’t so lucky.
The crash occurred on the northbound side of the M5 highway near Bridgewater, Somerset, just before 8:30 p.m. as dense fog formed quickly after hours of rain, the Telegraph reported.
In some cases firefighters had to cut into vehicles to rescue people trapped inside.
Paul Slaven of the Devon and Somerset fire and rescue service called the pileup the worst road traffic collision anyone can remember. He said at least six tractor-trailers were involved, along with numerous cars and light trucks.
Fire departments from 15 nearby areas responded to the crash, the Telegraph said.
The crash scattered debris on both sides of the divided highway. The M5 was completely shut down on the northbound side and a traffic jam on the southbound side stretched for at least 20 miles. The closure was expected to last well into Saturday, officials said.