By Marielle Mohs

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A pileup involving 29 vehicles — half of which were semi trucks — shut Interstate 94 down for hours in both directions near Monticello after a band of snow moved into the area Thursday morning.

The Minnesota State Patrol says it happened just after 9 a.m. near Flenning Avenue Northeast, soon after the first-ever Snow Squall Warning had been issued by the National Weather Service.

Traffic cameras in the area showed a number of semis that caught on fire, sending up large plumes of smoke.

Brittany Kolles captured video from the side of the interstate of her SUV going up in flames. She and her 10-year-old daughter narrowly escaped the fire.

“My daughter said, ‘Mommy, that truck is on fire,’ and I looked, and the semi, the flames were within, you know, 10 feet of my back window, and so we ran,” Kolles said.

Moments earlier, she had climbed into the back to hold her daughter after they watched trucks crash on the interstate in front of them.

(credit: Tom Fenton/Adams Publishing Group)

“I saw a semi on my left start to fish tail,” Kolles said. “It hit another semi, both of them jackknifed.”

She stopped her car before running into the crashed semis, but the vehicles behind them kept coming.

“I looked in my rearview mirror and a vehicle was coming [full speed] at us and rear ended us,” she said.

Kolles said her car was hit at least five times as the pile grew.

Tom Fenton was one of many witnesses. He pulled over to capture the worst of the destruction.

“It was jaw dropping to say the least,” Fenton said. “To see an … accident like this and to know that everybody is OK was just, it’s amazing.”

The state patrol says nine people were taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

“I’m so happy my daughter is OK. That’s all that matters,” Kolles said.

The interstate was completely reopened at about 6:30 p.m. The state patrol reported eastbound traffic was closed for about four hours, while westbound traffic was closed at Highway 25 for nine and a half hours.

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Marielle Mohs

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