Three are dead and 10 others have been injured following a fiery multi-vehicle collision in Alberta, forcing the partial closure of a major highway.
The collision happened at about 3:30 p.m. Tuesday on Highway 9 and Range Road 72 between the hamlet of Chinook and the village of Cereal -- approximately 300 kilometres east of Calgary.
RCMP said seven passenger vehicles and three semi-trailer trucks were involved in the collision.
“One of the semi-trucks was hauling fuel and the fuel ignited, causing several vehicles to catch fire. A second semi was hauling butane," RCMP said in a news release issued Tuesday night.
According to police, the area was “consumed with flames.”
On Wednesday, RCMP said three people were confirmed dead on scene and two others were critically injured and transported via air ambulance to area hospitals. Another eight people were injured and either treated on scene or transported to hospital.
An evacuation order was issued for the hamlet of Chinook, located approximately three kilometres from the collision, at 6:18 p.m. as a precautionary measure but was later cancelled.
“There is smoke and emergency crews in the area and caution must be used when travelling in the region,” an Alberta Emergency Alert said.
Evacuees were advised to go to an evacuation centre at the Youngstown Community Hall.
The fire was extinguished at approximately 8 p.m. and residents were allowed to return to their homes at 9 p.m.
RCMP said motorists can expect the highway to remain impassible until Wednesday at noon while a collision analyst investigates the scene.
"There will be a further delay while vehicles are towed and the highway is cleaned," said RCMP.
Traffic is being rerouted eastbound to Highway 884 and westbound to Highway 41.
Hazardous material teams will be on the scene to help with the cleanup, RCMP said.
Any witnesses who saw or were involved in the crash are being asked to attend the Legion in Oyen to speak with RCMP and Victim Services members.
Officials say the investigation is ongoing and “remains a lengthy process given the nature of the crash scene.” RCMP said they expect it to take several weeks for the collision analyst to complete the investigation.
With files from CTV Calgary and The Canadian Press