UPDATE: As of 1:30 p.m., officials have announced Hwy. 73 east and west bound lanes have reopened after this morning's pile-up. The total number of vehicles and victims involved in the crash is still undetermined, but reports estimate up to 200 vehicles were affected with more than 50 persons reporting injuries. At least four people were critically injured in the major traffic incident, but no fatalities have been reported.
A massive accident believed to have been caused by fog and smoke from out of control marsh fires has resulted in, as many as, 40 to 50 cars being involved in a traffic accident near the Veolia Plant on Hwy. 73.
Jefferson County Sheriff's Office spokesperson Rod Carroll said, there are numerous reports of people being trapped in vehicles and dozens of cars damaged in the scrum.
"We don't even know what we have right now," Carroll said. "They just activated the Winnie Fire Department and we already have LaBelle -Fannett units there and units from Port Arthur and others responding to the scene. I continue to hear reports of additional cars being involved over the radio and we have the highway shutdown at the city limits of Port Arthur."
Carroll said the highway is blocked in both directions and he urges motorists to stay away from the area as rescue workers try to free those who are trapped or injured. He said he was not yet aware of any fatalities but knew of several motorists that are trapped inside their cars at this time.
A REPORTER FROM THE EXAMINER IS EN ROUTE TO THE SCENE AND WILL UPDATE AND MORE INFORMATION BECOMES AVAILABLE.
Press Release from Jefferson County Sheriff's Office:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: The Jefferson County Sheriff's Office is currently on-scene of a multiple car accident on HWY 73 both Westbound and Eastbound by Veolia Processing Plant. Reports of up to 40 cars being involved in the accident. Accident was caused by poor visibility due to mixture of fog and smoke from marsh wild fires. Both directions of Hwy 73 are being shut down at this time due to lack visibility.Rod Carroll