HUGO, Ore.--An hour before the massive 9-vehicle pileup, a different accident happened, near milepost 75.
Joanie Curtis says she was headed to sunny valley and saw signage to slow down for that accident ahead.
Joanie Curtis says, "I noticed there was an orange sign that said there was a car wreck, and so I started slowing down. and pretty soon this truck was about four car lengths behind me, he crashed into another car, and his whole truck just exploded and all I could see in the rear view mirror is fire, 6 feet tall."
Then she says, a domino effect happened.
Joanie Curtis says, "Then all the other cars coming around that curve, one after another car was hitting each other, and there were people almost driving up the mountain, just so they wouldn't get hit."
One of the engineers in the first engine on scene says they were assigned to put out that semi-truck fire which was challenging, taking almost an hour to extinguish.
Mitch Kuntz says, "There were multiple vehicles that came from a scrap yard, stacked on the tractor trailer, probably five or six involved along with the cab itself."
The crash sent five people to the hospital including two children, everyone survived.
But the interstate had to be shut down for hours due to heavy surface damage leaving drivers trying to head north stranded.
Elizabeth Murray says, "We kept inching closer, and I thought oh, they're going to open it at any minute, but then we were directed off to the side."
ODOT directed traffic off I-5 north- and told people to head south to Grants Pass.
Many people instead decided to wait.
Oberon says, "Traffic you just kind of get out with your buds, toss a ball a couple times, you drive, get out again and toss."
Elizabeth Murray says, "It's been a really long time since I've had time to read, I have some books in the car and I am catching up on my reading, I am trying to be zen about it, we all have things we have to wait for, people wait 4 hours in an airport and don't think anything of it when a flight is rescheduled."