Fourth of July in Arizona: 5 dead, 5 injured in a 3-vehicle collision on I-10 near Tonopah – The Arizona Republic

Many people are expected to travel for the Fourth of July holiday, and many have already hit the road.

No weekend or maintenance closures are scheduled from Friday afternoon through late Monday night in order to limit impacts on highway travel, ADOT officials said.

Some Arizona destinations may be limited as forest closures remain in place due to fire danger. U.S. Forest Service officials announced the closures in June of the Coconino, Kaibab, Apache-Sitgreaves, Tonto and Prescott national forests. Forest officials cited the ongoing wildfires, dry conditions and lack of manpower as reasons for the closures

And despite a tradition of setting off fireworks around the holiday, fire officials are appealing to the public not to use them. With an intense wildfire season in full swing and the risk of burn injuries, they say it’s best to leave fireworks to the experts.

Follow coverage of the Fourth of July in Arizona here.

5 p.m. Friday: 5 dead, 5 injured in a 3-vehicle collision on I-10 near Tonopah 

Five people died and multiple people were injured following a three-vehicle crash involving a tractor-trailer on Interstate 10 near Tonopah, according to the Arizona Department of Public Safety.

The crash occurred around 1:20 p.m. on Friday in the eastbound lanes of I-10 at milepost 82, DPS said.

A tractor-trailer was in the second lane when it rear-ended a Nissan Altima with five people on board. The force of the collision caused the Nissan to split in half. All five passengers were pronounced dead at the scene, according to DPS officials.

The tractor-trailer continued eastbound until it collided with an SUV containing a mother and her four children. All five passengers have been taken to several Valley hospitals with serious injuries.

The driver of the tractor-trailer was not injured.

The left eastbound lane was open, but the Arizona Department of Transportation advised drivers to expect heavy traffic.

— Michael Donohue

3:30 p.m. Friday: Wildfire closes portion of highway leading to Roosevelt Lake

A wildfire has closed a 14-mile stretch of State Route 88 west of Roosevelt Lake, severing an entry route for popular recreation areas east of metro Phoenix in south-central Arizona.

There was no projected reopening time for portions of the highway between Roosevelt Lake on the east and below Apache Lake on the west, the state Department of Transportation said Friday.

The lightning-caused fire was reported Wednesday near Horse Mesa Dam and Apache Lake and was estimated to have burned 1.4 square miles of brush and grass as of Friday.

12:30 p.m. Friday: Many Americans expected to travel for the holiday

More Americans are expected to hit the road and travel during the extended Fourth of July holiday weekend after last year’s COVID-19 shutdown, according to the American Auto Club.

More than 47 million Americans are expected to travel during the holiday, a 40% increase from the year before, the release stated. 

Travel volumes are expected to nearly fully recover to pre-pandemic levels, the auto club said in a recent news release. Independence Day travel will see the second-highest volume on record, trailing only 2019 when there were 48.9 million travelers. 

In Arizona, about 856,000 people are expected to travel during this year’s holiday.

  • 749,621 to travel by automobile.
  • 91,166 to travel by airplane.
  • 15,262 to travel by another means, such as a bus or train.

“We saw strong demand for travel around Memorial Day and the kick-off of summer, and all indications now point to a busy Independence Day with travel in full swing this summer,” Aldo Vazquez, AAA Arizona spokesperson, said in the release.

— Mike Cruz