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Repairs Begin On I-70 After Deadly Pileup; Truck Driver In Custody

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CSP Golden

2:15 p.m. update:

Colorado officials say they hope to reopen a major highway by Saturday morning after the interstate was badly damaged by a fiery crash near Denver.

Police have said four people were killed on Thursday after a semi-truck plowed into vehicles on Interstate 70, causing a fire so intense that it melted the roadway and metal off of cars.

Authorities re-opened the highway's westbound lanes on Friday afternoon but said it will take crews at least until Saturday morning to repair the interstate's eastbound lanes.

Department of Transportation Chief Engineer Josh Laipply says crews and contractors have been called in.

The truck driver, 23-year-old Rogel Lazaro Aguilera-Mederos, has been arrested on suspicion of vehicular homicide.

12:30 p.m. update:

The truck driver suspected of killing four people in a fiery crash near Denver is expected to make his first court appearance on Saturday.

Authorities said Friday that Rogel Lazaro Aguilera-Mederos was arrested in Thursday's rush hour crash on busy Interstate 70 based on interviews and evidence gathered by investigators.

He is being held on suspicion of vehicular homicide but prosecutors have not filed formal charges against him.

Jail records don't indicate if he has a lawyer.

11:30 a.m. update:

The truck driver accused of killing four people in a fiery crash near Denver is a 23-year-old licensed operator from Texas.

Authorities said Friday that Rogel Lazaro Aguilera-Mederos was arrested in Thursday's rush hour crash on busy Interstate 70 based on interviews and evidence gathered by investigators.

Lakewood police spokesman Ty Countryman said there's no indication the crash was intentional and says he has been cooperative. Police wouldn't provide a hometown for him.

Jail records don't indicate if he has a lawyer. He is scheduled to make his first court appearance Saturday.

He is being held on suspicion of vehicular homicide but prosecutors have not filed formal charges against him.

10 a.m. update:

Lakewood Police confirmed in a Friday morning press briefing that four people have died after a semi-truck hauling lumber plowed into vehicles on Interstate 70, causing a fire so intense that it melted the roadway and metal off of cars.

Authorities had to wait until daylight Friday to confirm the death toll from Thursday's 28-vehicle pileup because of the devastation caused by the fire.

Six people were taken to hospitals with injuries. Their conditions are unclear.

The original story continues below.

A truck driver blamed for causing a deadly pileup involving over two dozen vehicles near Denver has been arrested on vehicular homicide charges.

Lakewood police spokesman Ty Countryman said Friday that there's no indication that drugs or alcohol played a role in Thursday's crash on Interstate 70.

The unidentified driver was headed down a hill when he slammed into slower traffic and sparked a massive fire. Countryman said police are looking at whether his brakes were working.

Video footage from a news helicopter showed flames whipping off the vehicles and what appeared to be lumber spilled across the interstate.

West Metro Fire Rescue tweeted that a firefighter suffered minor injuries when he was hit by debris, possibly from an exploding tire.

A towering plume of black smoke was seen for miles as firefighters doused the burned-out shells of several vehicles.

Countryman said 28 vehicles were involved, up from the initial 15 vehicles police reported after further sorting through the burned wreckage.

Police say there were multiple fatalities and several injured but can't provide an exact number until they make sure all people who were in the vehicles are accounted for.

The highway is expected to remain closed until Saturday.

Copyright 2019 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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