ONAWA — A grass fire along Interstate 29 Tuesday reduced visibility to zero, leading to two separate car pile-ups involving nine vehicles and forcing the highway’s closure for about twohours.
According to the Iowa State Patrol, fires in the median and east ditch near the Onawa exit left the interstate in a dense fog. A patrol spokesperson said the fire’s cause is unknown.
The patrol said the first collision occurred about 12:49 p.m. when a northbound semi driven by Floyd Hudson, of Carter Lake, stopped because he could not see. His truck was rear-ended by a vehicle driven by James Merrick, of Sioux Falls, S.D., and Merrick’s car was rear-ended by one driven by Steven Honnen, of Lincoln, Neb.
The pile-up continued with vehicles driven by Todd Savary, of Sergeant Bluff; Jessica Jones-Sitzmann, of Sioux City; Herbert Malcom, of Manitoba, Canada; and Curtis Losing, of Sioux Falls, S.D., involved, the patrol said.
Malcom’s vehicle jack-knifed in the median after rear-ending Losing’s.
In a separate nearby collision, Richard Michka, of Marion, S.D., had stopped his vehicle on I-29 and was rear-ended by a car driven by Anna DeBoom, of Sioux City, the patrol said.
No one was seriously injured in either pile-up, a patrol spokesperson indicated.
According to the patrol, the accidents forced the Interstate’s closure between Blencoe and Whiting for about two hours.
A patrol spokesperson said dry weather has contributed to several grass fires in the area. Shelby County area firefighters spent about eight hours Tuesday battling one northwest of Harlan. A Harlan Police Department spokesperson said there were no injuries and the only damage was to haybales.