SPRINGDALE (KFSM)-- The Springdale Fire Department was left with two vehicles in need of repair after working for hours on an icy stretch of Interstate 49 early Sunday morning (Dec. 31).
Captain Matt Bagley with the department said black ice caused multiple vehicles to slide either into their scene or off the road completely.
They were called on scene after one vehicle did just that, but others made the situation more dangerous for those trying to help people in trouble.
“At one point, one of our responders picked up his partner and threw him on the hood of a car because the other car coming through, there was no room for it not to hit them,” Bagley said. “So, they were both able to get on the car and get out of the way just in the nick of time. They estimate it was about two feet from them when it passed by.”
Battalion Chief Blake Holte arrived on scene not too long after their vehicles were hit.
The department said one car hit an ambulance, causing it to spin around.
The ambulance then became undrivable.
A semi-truck also sideswiped one of their trucks and took off a side view mirror.
“There were still vehicles that weren’t able to maintain control,” Holte said. “I had difficulty getting around the scene myself, you know, at five miles an hour in four-wheel drive. The road itself, in some spots, was difficult to even stand on. You couldn’t see the ice but the road was covered.”
Holte said his crew did a fantastic job and that working an incident like this can be more dangerous than fighting a fire.
He explained the unique thing about this accident was how spread out they were.
Vehicles were sliding in the southbound lane of the interstate and were crashing between the Sunset and Elm Springs exits.
Bagley said when they first got the initial call, they sent more crews than usual for the extra equipment.
Crews then created a "shadow" or buffer zone to prevent people from getting into their scene and to protect the crews working.
“I think that’s the thing that concerns us the most is there’s not a obvious next step or next level of safety we can implement,” Bagley said. “Our vehicles, which normally create a decent buffer, without adequate friction between wheels and road can be hit and slide. Our vehicles can be hit and pushed into people.”
The department currently does not have an estimated cost of how much damage was done.
They have a spare truck and ambulance out to replace the two that were hit until they are repaired.
Bagley said they are currently operating at 100 percent, but do not have much of a pool of extra resources to draw from if something else were to happen.
He expects the truck to be back in service soon, but the ambulance will require more time to be fixed.
Bagley said it is unclear whether or not charges will be filed against those who hit the vehicles.