Multi-vehicle crash closes Highway 400 near Barrie, Ontario, more closures and collisions reported across the region
Thursday, February 27, 2014, 1:43 PM -
Snow squalls wreaked havoc on one of the country's busiest highways Thursday, closing lanes in both directions on the 400 highway near Barrie, Ont.
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Ontario Provincial Police spokesman Sgt. Dave Woodford said as many as 96 vehicles were involved in the pile-up.
Emergency officials are dealing with bitter cold temperatures as they work to clear the roads, and are being forced to cut the guard rails to allow backed up traffic the opportunity to move.
Police asked Barrie transit buses to travel to the scene to keep stranded drivers warm during the clean up.
Despite the size of the crash however, officials say only three people had to be taken to hospital, where they were treated for non-life-threatening injuries.
There is no word on when the highway will reopen, but authorities expect it will take hours to clear.
The pile-up happened after an intense snow squall moved into the region off Lake Huron and Georgian Bay, resulting in near whiteout conditions.
A command post was set up in the area to help stranded motorists fill out reports and wait for a tow.
Several highway closures were reported across southwestern Ontario as well Thursday morning, including a shutdown of Highway 402 in Middlesex County and Highway 401 in both directions in Oxford County.
Police are urging drivers to slow down and adjust for the weather conditions after responding to a rash of tractor trailer crashes around Port Hope, east of Oshawa early Thursday.
"Motorists should be prepared for sudden very low to nil visibility in blowing snow and bursts of heavy snow," Environment Canada warned in the statements Thursday morning. "This will result in hazardous driving conditions."
At the time of the crashes, snow squall watches and warnings covered the region, and drivers were advised to avoid any "non essential" travel.
For those already on the road, police encourage you to pull over as the snow squall arrives and wait until it passes.
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With files from The Canadian Press