Iowa State Patrol Trooper Kelly Haman says a farmer was burning some brush and the smoke drifted across the roadway.
“Because of the heavy skies, the fog and the very thick air this morning – the smoke from that (fire) blew this direction across Highway 20. It created a zero visibility situation for people who just drove in to it suddenly…a lot of people naturally hit the brakes and it caused a multi-vehicle crash,” Haman said.
Around three dozen vehicles, including six semis, were involved in the crash that has closed both lanes of traffic on Highway 20. Haman said 25 to 30 vehicles were involved in the crash in the west bound lanes. The crash in the east bound lanes, about a quarter-mile away, involved eight to 10 vehicles.
Haman said several people have serious injuries, but there are no reports yet of any fatalities. Slick roads from snow are blamed for other accidents in eastern Iowa.
In Cedar Rapids, police officers responded to 49 crashes between 3 p.m. Sunday and 8 a.m. today. Four police squad cars were damaged when they were hit by other motorists. One police officer sustained minor injuries.
In each case, the police vehicle was hit while parked on the side of the roadway as officers investigated a previous crash.
By Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City
Radio Iowa’s Pat Curtis also contributed to this story.