Burning hay bales blamed for US 20 pileups in Iowa

March 5, 2012 - 7:35 PM
Highway 20 Crash

A crushed semi-trailer is towed on Highway 20, Monday, March 5, 2012, after chain-reaction collisions occurred involving nearly two-dozen vehicles near Webster City, Iowa. Authorities are blaming the pileups on poor visibility due to fog and thick, black smoke billowing from burning hay bales nearby. Eight people were hospitalized, two are reportedly in serious condition. (AP Photo/The Messenger, Jessie Helling)

WEBSTER CITY, Iowa (AP) — Eight people have been hospitalized — two in serious condition — after chain-reaction collisions involving nearly two-dozen vehicles on U.S. Highway 20 in north-central Iowa.

Authorities are blaming the pileups on poor visibility due to fog and thick, black smoke billowing from burning hay bales nearby.

The Iowa State Patrol says part of the highway was closed for several hours after the two separate incidents that happened about 7:30 a.m. Monday just east of Webster City. The four-lane highway was littered with crushed vehicles, including several semitrailers.

Patrol spokesman Sgt. Scott Bright said the combination of fog and smoke from the hay bales a farmer was burning at the time, cutting visibility to zero.