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Northwest storm knocks out power, causes multiple crashes

UPDATED: Sat., Dec. 30, 2017, 2:25 p.m.

SEATTLE – A winter storm moving through the Pacific Northwest knocked out power in parts of Washington and caused multiple collisions, including a fiery head-on crash involving two tractor trailers in eastern Oregon that killed two people.

Puget Sound Energy said crews are working to restore power in Whatcom County in northwestern Washington on Saturday after an ice storm brought down poles and power lines and coated roads with ice. The company is warning people to never touch downed power lines.

The company said 45,000 customers lost power at the peak of the ice storm.

The Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office said emergency crews had to pull back overnight as it was too dangerous to be on slick roads as trees and power poles toppled.

Oregon State Police said U.S. Highway 20 in eastern Oregon is expected to be closed in both directions most of Saturday following the fatal head-on crash involving two tractor-trailers that caught fire. It’s not clear what type of freight was being carried.

Officials say the crash occurred about 7 miles west of Harper.

State officials also say icy conditions led to multiple crashes involving tractor-trailers that closed eastbound Interstate 84 for about six hours. One of the lanes opened at about noon, and traffic is moving again.

Tom Strandberg, spokesman for the Oregon Department of Transportation, said the agency has advised motorists blocked by closures to wait in a safe location and not follow GPS navigation devices that might direct them off main roads that may not be passable during winter.

“A lot of them are county roads and Forest Service roads that are not maintained in the wintertime,” he said. “There’s not a lot of cellphone coverage in some areas.”

In northern Idaho, the National Weather Service reported Saturday morning that more than 34 inches of snow had fallen near Clark Fork in 72 hours.

Idaho State Police say a juvenile passenger died when the 20-year-old driver of a car attempted to pass and lost control on Interstate 90 in Coeur d’Alene late Friday. Police say the vehicle spun and stalled perpendicular to oncoming traffic, and was struck by a Chevy Silverado. The juvenile was pronounced dead at the scene.


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