Kevin Gallant, fire chief for the neighbouring town of Bradford-West Gwillimbury, said the three-vehicle crash around 10:30 p.m. took place only a few hundred metres further north on Highway 400.
Heavy traffic from that collision likely set the scene for the more major accident, he said.
Gallant was on the scene of the first collision when he said two fuel tanker trucks and at least three transport trucks collided just before 11:30 p.m. Tuesday, setting off a devastating chain reaction.
“When I looked to the south from the accident I was already on, all I saw was a big ball of fire,” Gallant said.
Schmidt said the crash sent fuel “rolling down the highway.”
“People were running for their lives to not be encompassed by the moving fire…