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Blizzard-like conditions on Interstate 5 Thursday morning contributed to a crash with 40 to 50 vehicles, including several semi-trucks, said Oregon State Police representatives.

The southbound lanes of the freeway were closed for more than four hours at the Millersburg exit, about three miles north of Albany. 

“It’s just limited visibility and people driving too fast for the conditions,” said Lt. Steve Mitchell, OSP spokesman.

Limited information about the massive wreck was available Thursday, as state police were scrambling to handle numerous crashes temporarily blocking Interstate 5 between the Albany area and Eugene.

Luckily, there weren’t any serious injuries from any of the collisions as of Thursday afternoon, Mitchell said. 

OSP Trooper Ray Stallsworth said the crash near Millersburg was the largest he had ever seen.

About 30 to 40 cars were in the initial pile-up, and clusters of crashed cars stretched three miles along the freeway.

“We’re not sure which (vehicles) actually crashed or which ones were slide-offs,” Stallsworth said.

An Oregon Department of Transportation sander was among the automobiles that slipped off the roadway at the scene.

Wanda Omdahl, Albany Fire Department spokeswoman, said five people were transported to hospitals because of the crash. 

“Stay home. Don’t drive,” Stallsworth said, as snow continued to fall and motorists slowly moved past at about 12:45 p.m.

One lane of southbound traffic had just reopened.

Stallsworth said he had been at the scene since about 8 a.m.

The Oregon Department of Transportation required chains for cars on Interstate 5 in Linn County, and warned motorists not to drive on I-5 between Albany and Eugene.

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Kyle Odegard covers public safety for the D-H. He can be contacted at 541-812-6077 or kyle.odegard@lee.net.

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