Six people died after a dust storm produced a massive pileup accident involving up to 80 vehicles and forcing the closure of Interstate 55 in Illinois just before 11 a.m. on Monday. More than 30 other people were injured in cars crashes which took place on a two-mile stretch of road in Farmersville,south of Springfield. The people injured were between 2 and 80 years old. Some of the injuries were life threatening. A number of vhicles were engulfed in flames. Drivers experienced zero visibility conditions. The area is very flat with few trees. Video images posted on Twitter showed dozens of cars and tractor-trailers in disarray.
State police troopers and firefighters responded. 10 helicopters were called to the scene. All the fires were out by 4:30 p.m., but fire crews remained on scene. “This is a difficult scene, something that is very hard to train for, something that we really haven’t experienced locally,” Kevin Schott, the director of Montgomery County’s emergency management agency, said at a news conference. Gov. J.B. Pritzker described the scene as “horrific” in a statement Monday afternoon. Dust storms rarely occur in central Illinois, according to the National Weather Service. Very strong winds on Monday created conditions. Previously, in 2014, dust blowing off dry farm fields near Carlinville, 45 miles south of Springfield, led to multiple collisions on Illinois’ State Highway 108.