Highway 400 reopens following pileup near Barrie, Ont.

A pileup in near-whiteout conditions involving dozens of vehicles closed a stretch of Highway 400 near Barrie on Monday, Ontario Provincial Police say.

Crash involved cars, pickup trucks, limousines, SUVS, tractor-trailers and a fuel tanker

The pileup Monday that closed a stretch of Highway 400 in Barrie involved a fuel tanker truck and several vehicles 'jammed up' together, according to Sgt. Kerry Schmidt, a spokesperson for the Ontario Provincial Police. (Sgt. Kerry Schmidt/Ontario Provincial Police)

Highway 400 reopened following a pileup in near-whiteout conditions involving dozens of vehicles near Barrie, Ont., on Monday. 

The major highway north of Toronto was closed in both directions for hours between Mapleview Drive and Highway 89, according to Sgt. Kerry Schmidt, spokesperson for the OPP's highway safety division.

Plowing and road repairs were needed after vehicles had been removed from the area, he said. 

Twelve people were assessed at the scene and taken to hospital, Joe Chawla, communications adviser for York Region, told CBC Toronto.

Schmidt said all of the injuries were believed to be minor in nature. Emergency crews were called to the scene on Highway 400 south of Mapleview Drive just before 10:30 a.m. on Monday.

Vehicles 'jammed up' together

The crash involved cars, pickup trucks, limousines, SUVS, tractor-trailers and a fuel tanker, Schmidt said. The passenger and commercial vehicles were all "jammed up" together amid blowing snow and gusty winds, he added. 

"This is going to be a bit of a mess getting this cleaned up," Schmidt said earlier.

Crews removed all vehicles from the area, and the highway has been reopened. (Michael Charles Cole/CBC)

Some motorists wound up crashing into ditches. Other vehicles were not damaged but were trapped in the pileup.

York Region Paramedic Services sent three ambulances, a multi-patient emergency response unit and a special response unit to the scene, according to Chawla.

"Most of the injuries reported have been minor in nature," Samantha Hoffmann, public information officer for Barrie Fire and Emergency Service, told CBC Toronto. 

Both directions of Highway 400 were shut down in the area highlighted in red following a pileup on Monday. The OPP had actually extended the closure further south to Highway 89. (CBC)

Injured people were taken to Barrie's Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre, while vehicles were towed to Georgian Downs, a nearby horse racetrack and entertainment facility.

Two Barrie Transit buses were at the scene to provide shelter and warmth to people left stranded.

Crash caused diesel spill

The fire department also said some 500 litres of diesel spilled onto the highway from a tractor-trailer, although road crews soon got the leak under control.

Several heavy duty and light duty tow trucks were on the scene shortly after the collision occurred. Debris was strewn across the highway.

People stand on top of vehicles after the pileup on Highway 400 in whiteout conditions. (Sgt. Kerry Schmidt/Ontario Provincial Police)

Schmidt said emergency crews were working in wintry conditions.

"This is the situation we are dealing with — lots of wind, gusty winds, whiteout conditions, snow, blowing snow," Schmidt said.

A blizzard warning had been in effect for the Barrie area, but Environment Canada ended the warning as of 8:46 p.m. Monday. 

Snow squalls, combined with strong northwest winds gusting to 70 km/h, had produced dangerous whiteout conditions, the weather agency said.

With files from Julia Knope