Authorities are still gathering information and dealing with the horrific aftermath of a fatal 14-vehicle collision onHighway 400 near Barrie, Ont. The initial crash is suspected to have been caused by an inattentive transport truck driver who slammed into a stopped truck ahead of him around 11:30 p.m. Tuesday evening.
Three people are confirmed dead and police are saying that exact number of fatalities is not yet known. Several drivers and passengers involved in the crash were taken to the hospital, but have since been released.
Witnesses to the scene described it in harrowing terms. According to Sgt. Kerry Schmidt of the Ontario Provincial Police's highway safety division, first responders observed it was "almost like Armageddon."
Things remain in devastating condition on that stretch of the 400, which has been closed between Highways 88 and 89.
"It's something I have never seen in my life [....] absolutely catastrophic. Twisted, tangled metal, unrecognizable debris and sadly deceased people in those vehicles as we speak," Schmidt said to reporters.
Video taken immediately after the initial collision captured a series of explosions that shot fireballs into the night night sky. The trucks, with all of the diesel fuel on board between them, acted more or less as "bombs on wheels," Schmidt explained.
It took nearly three hours, and firefighters from eight different services, to completely extinguish the staggering blaze. Though investigations regarding the full range of factors that caused the crash will soon commence, initial assessments do not pinpoint environmental conditions as having played any role in it.