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Three tractor-trailers crashed in a chain-reaction accident on the southbound lanes of the QEW Monday evening at the Thompson Road interchange at Fort Erie, Ont., causing “a devastating crash involving property damage,” according to an Ontario Provincial Police official.

But their light loads – building insulation and tissue paper – likely saved their lives, authorities who responded to the spectacular crash said.

Two of the drivers were taken to an area hospital with non-life threatening injuries and one of the drivers was charged with careless driving. The drivers’ names were not released.

The southbound lanes at the interchange were closed at 6:30 p.m. and did not reopen until 12:24 a.m. today.

The accident occurred when a tractor trailer slammed into the back of another southbound truck, which then crashed into the back of yet another southbound tractor trailer in front of it.

Cargo in all three trailers was described as light in weight and explained why there were only minor injuries, according to Fort Erie Fire Chief Larry Coplen.

Two of the trailers had loads of 4-foot by 8-foot sheets of building insulation and the other trailer was carrying a shipment of Kleenex tissue.

The fire chief expressed amazement that the driver who triggered the crash survived.

“When his cab crashed into the back of the first trailer, it was actually ripped from the frame. We had to help him out of the cab, but he was able to walk away from the crash. He was treated at the hospital for minor cuts,” Coplen said, adding the other driver transported to the hospital had whiplash.

“They were all light loads, but if there had been heavier cargo, it really would have been a lot more hazardous,” Coplen said.

An investigation into the collision was continuing, the police official said.