Three semi trucks were involved in separate crashes Saturday - one a rollover, one hit by a train and one a collision with a sedan - at nearly the same northwest-side location.

Traffic snarled as a result of the first semi crash led to a two-car collision that sent five people to the hospital.

About 5 a.m. an 18-wheeler overturned in the westbound lane of the freeway between Cortaro and Avra Valley roads. There were no injuries and the truck was not carrying hazardous materials, but a fuel spill required cleanup by the Northwest Fire/Rescue District hazmat team and resulted in traffic congestion into the early afternoon, said Capt. Adam Goldberg, a Northwest Fire spokesman.

A two-vehicle crash just west of the Cortaro exit occurred at 6:21 a.m. as a result of the traffic slowdown. Five people were transported to University Medical Center with non-life-threatening injuries. One occupant refused treatment, Goldberg said.

Just after 1:15 p.m. at the railroad crossing on Cortaro Road east of the I-10 interchange, a westbound semi was hit by a northbound Union Pacific freight train. There were no injuries and neither the truck nor the train was carrying hazardous materials.

Just before the crash, a Department of Public Safety officer directing traffic backed up from the earlier accidents saw the semi pull onto the tracks and the railroad crossing arms come down on its trailer and break off. "He tried in vain to get four vehicles to move forward out of the truck's way so the truck could move forward and get off the train tracks,," Goldberg said.

The semi's trailer was split, but the driver - who was still in the cab of his truck when it was hit - escaped unscathed. The train did not derail and its three crew members were unharmed.

The third semi accident occurred just before 4 p.m. in the eastbound lane of I-10 just west of Avra Valley Road. Traffic still was tied up, and drivers were approaching a construction zone where the freeway narrows to a single lane.

The driver of the 18-wheeler tried to merge into the high-speed lane in which a black sedan was traveling and the two vehicles collided. There were no injuries.

"Basically we continue to have a big mess out there," Goldberg said Saturday evening.

Contact reporter Kimberly Matas at 573-4191 or