By Jamie Leary

SILVERTHORNE, Colo. (CBS4)– Hours of on and off snowfall created treacherous driving conditions on Interstate 70 on Tuesday. Westbound lanes were closed between the Loveland Pass exit and Silverthorne for a crash.

(credit: CBS)

CBS4’s Jamie Leary and photojournalist John Mason were stuck in the backup caused by a jackknifed semi. They spoke with a couple traveling just behind the accident who said other semi-truck drivers closer to the accident jumped out to help the victim and extinguish a small fire that began in the engine.

Traffic started moving again at around 9 p.m.

The couple said visibility was poor and everyone around them had to hit the brakes suddenly to avoid a pileup.

“It was snowing pretty good, and traffic was getting slowed down, and I think everybody just kind of hit an icy patch. I mean we were on the breaks, and everybody was sliding and then we saw the truck kind of jackknife across the road. There was a little fire, and the rest of the semi-truck drivers help put it out.”

The couple said everyone managed to come to a halt without hitting one another, but it was a close call.

(credit: CBS)

“You know, people were going too fast, and the car behind us had to swerve off to avoid hitting us in the back, so um yeah, driving conditions are not great, but I’m happy everyone is okay.”

While CSP has yet to confirm details of the accident, a responder on scene said he was unaware of any injuries.

Eastbound lanes of Interstate 70 were closed between Exit 205 CO 9 at Silverthorne and Exit 216 US 6 Loveland Pass for a while on Tuesday afternoon. The closure was due to a crash east of the tunnel and reopened once the crash was cleared.

The mountains are getting snow in a storm system that could bring rain and most likely wind to the Denver metro area.

Leary and Mason were on the interstate during the traffic shutdown:

Many cars were stuck in the middle of I-70 with tires spinning earlier in the afternoon. Tow truck drivers kept busy. One told CBS4 he was surprised at the traffic mess.

“No one expected it to be that bad,” said Khan Misiratov. “Five people because it was snowing really bad in the morning around 11. There were a bunch of accidents, a semi jackknifed… bunch of rental cars with the bad tires.”

Chain laws, as a result, have been of and on, but commercial vehicles are required to carry them through May.

Jamie Leary