Multiple fatalities in major crash, fire on I-70 in Lakewood

LAKEWOOD, Colo. -- Multiple people were killed in a large crash and fire that shut down Interstate 70 in both directions near Denver West Colorado Mills Parkway in Lakewood Thursday.

The fire was in the eastbound lanes. However, both directions of the highway are closed. The Denver West Colorado Mills Parkway bridge over the interstate is also shut down.

Westbound traffic is being diverted through the Denver West on and off ramps.

RELATED: Alternate routes to get around the closure

At 9 p.m., the Lakewood Police Department said multiple people were killed in the crash and fire, but it could not specify how many people died.

LPD Agent Ty Countryman said the crash began when a semitrailer traveling at a high rate of speed on the eastbound side of the highway collided with other vehicles, starting a chain reaction and fire. The driver of that semi survived.

An estimated total of 12 passenger vehicles and three semitrailers were involved in the crash. Countryman said one semi was carrying wood, another was carrying gravel and the third may have been carrying mattresses.

Countryman said there is a "very real possibility" I-70 would be closed through the Friday morning commute.

"This is looking to be one of the worst accidents we've had here in Lakewood," Countryman said.

A Centura Health spokesperson said at least six people were transported to St. Anthony Hospital in Lakewood. The hospital is treating three male patients and three female patients. One male patient is in good condition; the other five patients are in fair condition.

The spokesperson said "fair condition" means the patients are conscious with minor complications.

West Metro Fire Rescue said one of its firefighters suffered minor injuries when he was struck by debris, likely when a tire exploded.

The identity of those killed have not yet been released.

LPD urged the public to avoid the area.

As of 10 p.m., WFMR crews were still at the scene.

WMFR and LPD are working with the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office and the Colorado State Patrol.

The Colorado Department of Transportation is evaluating the structural integrity of the bridge.

Earlier Thursday afternoon, a school bus and a semitrailer were involved in a crash on I-70 in nearby Wheat Ridge. The crash closed the eastbound lanes of I-70, which caused a backup that spread to eastbound I-70 in much of the west metro area.

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