MONTROSE, Ga. -- Three people are reported dead after multiple crashes and a tanker truck fire on a Georgia interstate Wednesday morning.
Bibb County Coroner Leon Jones said there are three dead in the multicar pile-up on the westbound side of I-16 in Laurens County.
Georgia State Patrol reports the accident involved four separate crashes and an estimated 27 vehicles, including seven commercial vehicles. Firefighters from multiple agencies battled fires on the scene.
"There were 6 vehicles right there together and all of them were on fire," said Laurens County EMS director Terry Cobb.
Joy Pope, a 911 operator with Laurens County, said emergency responders were working to extinguish a fire involving a tanker truck.
Officials said the interstate would likely be closed in both directions for most of the day.
At least 12 people were taken to hospitals in the nearby town of Dublin, though most injuries appeared to be minor, Cobb said.
The pileup happened near Montrose, about 40 miles southeast of Macon. It shut down a roughly seven-mile stretch of the highway, forcing cars to be detoured around the area.
Martha Strickland of Dublin said she and her daughter drove through the accident area around 8:30 a.m. on the eastbound side of I-16, which was clear but clouded with smoke.
The tanker had not exploded, she says, but the truck cab was on fire as was the car ahead of and behind it.
Regarding reports of the fatalities, Strickland says, "If only three people died, it will be a miracle. It was just destruction. It was like a war zone."
Cobb told The Associated Press that emergency officials encountered fog on the way to the crash site. However, it was not immediately known if fog was a factor in the wreck.
"Once we got there, the fog was kind of lifted at the scene," he said.
Contributing: The Associated Press