EAST HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) – State police identified two people who were killed in a four-vehicle crash on I-84 in East Hartford on Monday morning.
Troopers identified the victims as 67-year-old Verlean Douglas of South Windsor and 52-year-old Norman Bliss of Etters, PA.
The highway reopened between Exits 51 and 56 twelve hours after the crash. The crash happened in the area of 55 and 56.
An area of Route 2 westbound to I-84 was also closed during the investigation.
The crash was reported around 5:10 a.m. on Monday, and involved four vehicles, including a school bus and three tractor trailers.
There was also a fully-involved fire on two of the tractor trailers and the bus at the time. The flames were able to be seen on Dept. of Transportation cameras.
“The third tractor trailer, just the rear of it caught fire, the driver was able to detach the trailer from the rest of the rig," said Sgt. Dwight Washington, Connecticut State Police.
No children were aboard the bus, troopers said.
State police released a little more information on Tuesday about how the crash unfolded.
They said two of the tractor trailers and the school bus were stopped on I-84 in the center lane, next to the connecting ramp for Route 2.
The third tractor trailer approached the three stopped vehicles but the driver was unable to stop in time. Its front end collided with the bus, which caused a chain reaction crash that led to the remaining tractor trailers being struck.
The third tractor trailer jackknifed and caught fire. The fire spread to the bus and trailer portions of the other tractor trailers.
Douglas was identified as the driver of the school bus and Bliss was driving the third tractor trailer. Both were killed as a result of the initial collision.
People in the area at the time of the crash could see flames and billowing smoke for miles, but one local businesswoman had an even more terrifying view of the devastation.
"When I first came in, the streets were blocked off. All I saw was smoke and the flames still going with the fire department and the ambulance still out there with a bunch of police cars," said Melona Martinez.
Melona Martinez is the business manager at Gengras Chevrolet, which is across the street from where the crash happened.
"When I first saw the school bus, I was like, 'oh God, I hope there wasn't any kids involved,'" Martinez said.
The crash and fire remain under investigation.
For real-time traffic updates, check the Channel 3 traffic map here.
Police are continuing to investigate what caused the crash.
Channel 3 has reached out to state police multiple times on Monday to ask what company or district the school bus was from, but they have not released that information.
Stay with Channel 3 for updates.